Board Eligibility

A physician’s eligibility for AOA board certification begins upon completion of their specialty or subspecialty training program and ends on Dec. 31 of the following sixth year.

Board eligibility status will be automatically terminated in the following circumstances:

  • After completion of the board eligibility timeframe.
  • Upon denial of an appeal to extend the board eligibility timeframe for an individual.
  • Upon award of certification.

The following eligibility requirements must be met for AOA board certification:

  • You must be a graduate of a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine and have completed an AOA or ACGME-accredited training program OR be a graduate of a LCME-accredited medical school and have completed an ACGME-accredited training program.
  • You must hold a valid, active license to practice medicine in a U.S. state, commonwealth, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory.
  • You must adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
  • You must follow the process as outlined by the board’s requirements and meet any specialty-specific requirements for board certification during the six-year board eligibility period.
  • You must pass all required certification exams.

Re-Entry into the Certification Process

A physician who has not obtained final certification at the end of six years of board eligibility may petition the AOBPa for re-entry into the certification process.

Upon acceptance by the Board, the candidate must start at the beginning of the certification process. Prior activity toward certification will not be recognized in the first re-entry process. Candidates must participate in the first available administration of the exam and will have two attempts to pass each step of the exam. If unsuccessful on a given administration, the candidate must participate in the next available examination administration.

Candidates who were not successful in becoming certified at the end of the first re-entry pathway process may pursue certification only by petitioning the certifying board for entry into the final pathway process, which may require special requirements.

Upon acceptance by the Board, the candidate must display efforts to conform and satisfy the requirements without delay. Candidates must enter at the beginning of the certification process and participate in the first available exam administration. They will have two attempts to pass each step of the exam. If unsuccessful on a given administration, the candidate must participate in the next available examination administration.

Candidates who were not successful in becoming certified at the end of the final pathway have no further opportunity to become certified in the specialty or subspecialty.

Resolution 56: Eligibility for ABMS-Certified DOs

Resolution 56 defines the certification eligibility for ABMS-certified physicians seeking primary certification from the AOBPa. To be eligible for Resolution 56, ABMS-certified osteopathic physicians must meet the following requirements:

  • Be certified by the ABMS and have completed residency training prior to submitting an application. Note that ABMS-certified osteopathic physicians who participated in a clinical pathway (in lieu of completing a residency program) to achieve ABMS certification may be allowed to enter the certification process under the following conditions:
    • The pathway must have been completed prior to 1995; and
    • The candidate must meet any additional requirements set by the specialty board for certification.
  • Additional requirements and fees as designated by the certifying board.
  • Complete and submit application and release of information form.

Right to Appeal

If a candidate feels that the actions of the AOBPa with regard to any part of the examination constitute unequal application of the regulations and requirements or standards, unwarranted discrimination, prejudice, unfairness or improper conduct of the examination, he or she has the right to appeal to this Board. The AOBPa will not consider appeals based on exam content, sufficiency or accuracy of answers, scoring, or the minimum passing score.

Candidates may submit an Appeal Petition to the Board within 30 days of the written/practical examinations or within two hours after the oral examination. All late appeals will be denied.

Each appeal will be voted upon by the AOBPa’s Examination Committee. Candidates will be advised by the Examination Committee’s decision by certified mail. If an appeal is denied by the AOBPa, the candidate retains the right to appeal to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) and AOA Board of Trustees.

If the Appeal Committee accepts an appeal, the candidate’s examination will not be scored or recorded.

They will be able to re-take the exam at the next scheduled date at no additional application or examination fee, and the exam will be conducted by a different team. The candidate’s original application documents will be used.

If for any reason the candidate elects not to retake the exam at the next scheduled date, his or her appeal will be void and the candidate will be required to reapply. Exceptions with good cause will be considered on an individual basis.

If the candidate is not satisfied with the results of an appeal before this board, he or she has the right to further appeal to the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS). Where necessary, candidates may appeal the decision of the BOS to the AOA Board of Trustees.

AOA Code of Conduct: Irregular and Improper Behavior

Board examination results and questions of improper conduct are reviewed by Board members. Improper behavior, including but not limited to, giving, receiving or otherwise obtaining unauthorized information or assistance, looking at or utilizing the test material of others, taking notes, failing to comply with computer site staff instructions, talking with other candidates or other disruptive behavior will be considered cause for review of conduct and a possible violation of the certification process. Candidates must not discuss the examination while the session is in progress. Candidates must not disclose the contents of the examination to others or reproduce the examination or any portion of the examination in any manner, including without limitation reconstruction through memorization, electronic means, or dictation. All examinations of this Board are copyrighted and protected by Federal law. The above policies apply to all examinations given by the Board.

It is a criminal offense to copy or reproduce any portion of the certifying examinations. The Board will monitor examinations for irregular or improper behavior by direct observation, statistical analysis, and by other means. Irregular or improper behavior will constitute grounds for invalidation of the candidate’s examination and the Board reserves the right to invoke other sanctions, such as exclusion from future examinations, revocation of board certification, and reporting misconduct to licensing bodies or law enforcement agencies.

Compliance With Federal Regulations

The AOBPa complies with all applicable federal and state regulations, including:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The AOBPa complies with requirements prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation, as well as regulations for Title II and Title III (and all subsequent regulations) as printed in the federal register.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): In compliance with the HIPAA Act of 1996 and any subsequent modifications, the AOBPa ensures that individuals’ health information is properly protected, while allowing the flow of health information to provide and promote high quality health care. Patient confidentiality as defined by HIPAA will be maintained at all times in every exam administered by the AOBPa.