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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.

Post-board eligibility process

Candidates who do not achieve board certification by the conclusion of the six (6) year board eligibility timeframe may petition the AOBR in writing (via email to aobr@osteopathic.org) to enter the post board eligibility certification process. This petition must be received within three (3) years of the termination of the board eligibility status timeframe. In order for a petition to be accepted, a candidate must have their training recognized as complete by the AOA and must hold an active license to practice in the U.S., its territories or Canada.

Upon acceptance by the Board, candidates must adhere to the process as outlined below:

  • Candidates must follow the AOBR certification examination application process as outlined on the website.
    • Candidates do not have to retake examinations successfully passed during board eligibility.
  • Candidates must participate in the first available administration of each exam.
  • Candidates will have four (4) attempts to pass each step of the examination process.
    • Failure to apply for or participate in the next available examination is considered a forfeiture of one attempt.
  • Candidates must participate in the next available examination if unsuccessful on an examination attempt.

Candidates who do not achieve board certification through the post board eligibility process will have no further opportunity to obtain AOA board certification in the specialty or subspecialty.

Right to appeal

If a candidate feels that the actions of the AOBR with regard to 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 AOBR will not consider appeals based on examination content, sufficiency or accuracy of answers given to examination questions, scoring of the examination, scoring of answers to individual questions, and/or the determination of the minimum passing score.

To appeal, a candidate must submit an Appeal Request Form within two hours of the exam explaining the basis for the appeal. Appeal Forms will be provided to all candidates before the exam begins. Appeals submitted after the two-hour deadline will be denied.

Appeals submitted within the deadline will be considered by the AOBR Appeal Committee. A majority vote of the Committee will determine whether the AOBR accepts or denies the appeal. Candidates will be advised by the AOBR of the Appeal Committee’s decision by certified mail.

If an appeal is denied by the AOBR, the candidate retains the right to request an appeal of the decision to the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) in writing, via email, addressed to BOS Secretary, at certification@osteopathic.org. As required in the Handbook of the BOS, the request for an appeal and supporting documentation must be submitted electronically within sixty (60) days of the date of the AOBR decision letter.

If an appeal is denied by the AOBR, the candidate retains the right to appeal to the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) and 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 AOBR complies with all applicable federal and state regulations, including:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The AOBR 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. Eligible candidates may submit a request for accommodations of disability when applying for an examination.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): In compliance with the HIPAA Act of 1996 and any subsequent modifications, the BOARD ensures that individuals’ health information is properly protected, while allowing the flow of health information to provide and promote high quality health care. All medical records submitted for review by candidates for AOBR certification will be de-identified by the candidate prior to submission, such that the remaining information cannot be used to identify an individual patient.