From now until 2025, the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) offers two ways for physicians to become board-certified Addiction Medicine specialists – the “traditional certification pathway” and the “clinical practice pathway.”
The ABPM recognizes physicians working in the field of addictions have diverse medical specialty training, and therefore, the medical specialty board offers these two certification pathways in Addiction Medicine. While the “traditional” pathway requires completion of an accredited fellowship, the “practice pathway” allows physicians to apply to take the certification exam without completing an accredited fellowship.
ABPM Traditional Certification Pathway
The traditional certification process through the ABPM (also known as the ACGME-accredited fellowship pathway) is designed for addiction medicine specialists with a primary license in other medical specialties like internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, or psychiatry. To qualify to sit for the ABPM Addiction Medicine Certification Exam, candidates in this pathway must meet specific medical education and training criteria. They must:
Hold a valid and unrestricted medical license in an approved primary specialty.
Complete an accredited Addiction Medicine fellowship program.
Demonstrate competence in Addiction Medicine through a rigorous certification exam process.
Candidates opting to be ABPM board-certified through this pathway will find it provides a structured route to assessing their knowledge in treating substance abuse and substance-related health conditions. Beginning in 2026, this pathway will be the only one available. Or, only physicians who have completed an ACGME-accredited fellowship will have access to the ABPM certification exam. Until 2025, physicians can opt into the “practice pathway” to qualify for the Addiction Medicine certification exam.
ABPM Practice Pathway
This pathway provides an alternative to the traditional Addiction Medicine certification process, allowing candidates to demonstrate their Addiction Medicine expertise through documented professional practice. Through this certification path, physicians with substantial clinical practice experience, but who have not completed an ACGME-accredited fellowship, can still apply to sit for the ABPM Addiction Medicine board exam.
The ABPM practice pathway will only be available until 2025. This is called the ‘grandfathering’ pathway because it allows physicians who’ve been practicing in the field of addiction medicine for years or decades to have their expertise recognized through a board certification. Starting in 2026, the certification exam will be accessible exclusively to physicians who have successfully finished an ACGME-accredited fellowship.
Certification Options Available in the Practice Pathway
Within the ABPM Practice Pathway, two different certification options are offered for physicians: the “Time in Practice” option and the “Non-Accredited Fellowship Training” option.
Time in Practice Requirements
To meet the criteria for Addiction Medicine certification, candidates are required to provide evidence of engaging in a minimum of 1,920 hours of Addiction Medicine practice at the subspecialty level. These hours must be accrued over a span of at least 24 out of the preceding 60 months before the application date. The 24 months of practice need not be consecutive, but all practice must have taken place within the five-year period leading up to June 30 of the application year.
The practice itself should encompass a comprehensive range of professional activities with a substantial focus on Addiction Medicine. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate a minimum of 25% (or 480 hours) of direct patient care within their practice. Activities related to Addiction Medicine, such as research, administration, and teaching, conducted outside of direct patient care, can contribute up to a combined maximum of 75% (or 1,440 hours). However, only 25% (480 hours) of general practice can be applied towards the required hours for the Practice Pathway, with the remaining 75% dedicated specifically to Addiction Medicine practice. A list of activities recognized by the ABPM as qualifying for Addiction Medicine practice can be found here.
Fellowship activities that fall short of 12 months in duration or are not accredited by the ACGME may be considered as part of the practice requirement. Details of the specific training must be provided for any fellowship activity. Additionally, documentation of Addiction Medicine teaching, research, administration, and clinical care or prevention activities for individuals at risk for or affected by substance use disorder may also be taken into account.
Non-Accredited Fellowship Training Requirements
Completion of training in a non-ACGME-accredited Addiction Medicine fellowship program can be used in lieu of the Time-in-Practice option. To qualify, the applicant must have successfully finished an Addiction Medicine fellowship lasting a minimum of 12 months, which is deemed acceptable by the ABPM. The applicant is required to provide the fellowship training curriculum along with a description of the actual training experience.
If the fellowship training is less than 12 months, it can still contribute towards meeting the Time-in-Practice requirements. Non-ACGME-accredited fellowships refer to those currently accredited through the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM).
ABPM Practice Pathway Application: Documents and Verifications
The ABPM Practice Pathway asks for a series of crucial documents and verifications throughout the application process. These include completed application forms, medical school transcripts, licensure information, and verification of clinical training. Additionally, a letter of recommendation from a qualified colleague plays a pivotal role in assessing a candidate’s professional competence.
Medical License Verification Requirement
To be eligible for certification in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM), candidates must hold an active and unrestricted medical license in the United States or Canada. The license must be recognized by the relevant state or provincial medical board and should not be subject to any disciplinary actions or restrictions.
Candidates are required to provide documented evidence of their medical specialties using a current medical license. The ABPM may independently verify the status and validity of the candidate’s medical license through direct communication with the licensing authority. This verification process helps to maintain the integrity of the certification process and ensures that candidates possess the necessary qualifications to practice at a high standard.
Physicians will need to provide detailed documentation of their clinical practice experience, including specific responsibilities, roles, and the scope of Addiction Medicine activities performed.
Current Specialty Certification Verification (ABPM will confirm after application)
Practice and Training Verification, if using practice activity
Fellowship Verification, if using credit from a fellowship
Letter of Reference: Applicants will submit One Letter of Reference from a physician who is certified through an ABMS Member Board, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)
The ABPM Practice Pathway offers a flexible and competency-based route to certification for experienced physicians in the field of Addiction Medicine. It emphasizes practical experience and a commitment to ongoing professional development, aligning with the ABPM’s mission to uphold high standards in preventive healthcare.
If you still aren’t sure which certification pathway you qualify for, you can take the ABPM’s Am I Eligible? quiz here.
Benefits of Using an Addiction Medicine Board Review Course
No matter which certification pathway you qualify for, consider using an Addiction Medicine Board Review Course while prepping for the board exam. Board review courses offer many advantages, including:
Focused and Comprehensive Preparation: Board review courses are tailored to cover the specific content and topics you’ll encounter in the certification exams.
Structured Study Plans: These courses provide a structured study schedule, ensuring that you cover all relevant material efficiently.
Practice Questions and Simulated Exams: Review courses typically include a plethora of practice questions and simulated exams, allowing you to gauge your readiness and identify areas for improvement.
Expert Guidance: You’ll benefit from the insights and expertise of experienced, board-certified lecturers who are well-versed in Addiction Medicine.
Increased Confidence: A well-designed board review course can boost your confidence, helping you approach the ABPM certification exam with a clear and focused mindset.
Benefits of Using The Pass Machine Addiction Medicine Board Review Course
The Addiction Medicine Board Review Course offered by The Pass Machine includes:
1300+ board-reflective questions
34 hours of high-yield lectures
Up to 103 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits™
Up to 24 ABPM® Self-Assessment credits
A comprehensive PDF syllabus
A 12-month subscription
But, best of all, certification exam candidates who take The Pass Machine Addiction Medicine Board Review Course have a pass rate of 98%. This compares to the overall ABPM Addiction Medicine Certification pass rate of only 83%! In other words, with The Pass Machine, you lower your risk of exam failure by 88%, from a fail rate of 17% to only 2%.
The Pass Machine Addiction Medicine Board Review is a comprehensive and risk-free option because it offers a better money-back guarantee in the event the candidate does not pass (conditions apply). But, again, since The Pass Machine Addiction Medicine Course has a pass rate of 98%, you’re unlikely to need that guarantee. Nevertheless, it’s there for your peace of mind.
Choosing the right pathway to certification in Addiction Medicine is a pivotal decision for any medical professional. Whether following the traditional certification path or the clinical practice path, the ABPM’s certification process offers a well-structured framework for vetting addiction medicine physicians. By understanding the nuances of each pathway and leveraging the benefits of a board review course, aspiring Addiction Medicine physicians can find success in the certification process.
Addiction Medicine Certification: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the pass rate for the ABPM addiction medicine exam?
The ABPM Addiction Medicine Exam has a pass rate of 83% in 2022. However, The Pass Machine Addiction Medicine Board Review clients achieved an impressive 98% pass rate on the Certification exam.
What certifying boards offer certification in Addiction Medicine?
The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) both offer board certification pathways in Addiction Medicine. The ABPM Clinical Practice Pathway to certification expires in 2025.
What is the “Time in Practice” certification pathway in Addiction Medicine?
The Time in Practice pathway through the ABPM acknowledges the value of hands-on experience. To become certified Addiction Medicine physicians, candidates are required to provide evidence of at least 1,920 hours spent practicing Addiction Medicine at the subspecialty level. These 1,920 hours must be accumulated over a span of at least 24 out of the last 60 months leading up to the application. It’s worth noting that the 24 months of practice need not be consecutive, but all practice hours must fall within the five-year period preceding June 30 of the application year.