A physician’s eligibility for AOA board certification begins upon completion of their specialty or subspecialty training program and ends on Dec. 31st of the following sixth year.
Applicants must petition the AOBR for entry into the initial certification process. The AOBR will accept all applicants who meet the entry requirements. To be eligible for certification from the AOBR, candidates must meet the criteria below:
- Be a graduate of a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.
- Satisfactorily complete a one-year internship in an AOA-approved training program or training equivalent to an internship as determined by the AOA Council on Postdoctoral Training.
- Specific training and other requirements for the desired specialty or subspecialty.
- Hold an unrestricted license to practice in a state or territory.
- Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
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.
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 AOBR for re-entry into the certification process.
Upon acceptance by the Board, the candidate must enter at the beginning of the certification process. Prior activity toward certification will not be recognized. Candidates must participate in the first available exam administration 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 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. Upon acceptance by the Board, the candidate must enter at the beginning of the certification process. Prior activity toward certification will not be recognized. Candidates must participate in the first available exam administration 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 administration.
Candidates who were not successful in becoming certified at the end of the final pathway have no further opportunity to become certified by the AOBR.
Resolution 56: Eligibility for ABMS-Certified DOs
Resolution 56 defines the certification eligibility for ABMS-certified physicians seeking primary certification from the AOBR. 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 the application and release of information form.
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 the Appeal Committee accepts an appeal, the candidate’s exam will not be scored or recorded, and he or she has the right to a new examination at the next scheduled exam date at no additional application or examination fee. If for any reason the candidate does not retake the exam, the appeal will be considered null and void.
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 an application for accommodation of a disability by using the AOBR ADA Application form. Learn more.
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.