Basic Gastroenterology Certification Requirements

gastroenterology certification requirements

In March of 2016 the gastroenterology certification requirements changed. There are new requirements that you must meet to successfully complete your certification. This article will provide you with what you as a physician need to know in order to successfully complete the gastroenterology certification process. 

The subspecialty of gastroenterology requires that you have already obtained your internal medicine certification through the ABIM and hold a valid license to practice. According to the ABIM, “To become certified in a subspecialty, a physician must satisfactorily complete the requisite graduate medical education fellowship training, demonstrate clinical competence, and procedural skills.” The internal medicine training must have been completing in an accredited U.S. or Canadian program. Any training prior to completing your internal medicine training will not count toward the subspecialty training. The training must be completed by the end of October of the year of the examination. 36 months of training with 18 months of clinical training is required prior to the exam. Specific procedures must have been learned during your training and these include diagnostic and therapeutic upper and lower endoscopy. This is a specific feature of the gastroenterology certification requirements. If you are also seeking to be certified in transplant hepatology it is necessary to be previously certified by ABIM in gastroenterology. This certification will not be further explored here.
For any certification it is required that you have documentation of clinical competence in patient care and procedural skills, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism and systems-based practice. Your training program director will determine your competence across these areas as they have been dictated by ACGME/ABMS expectations.

Once all of these requirements have been satisfied you are then prepared to sit for the gastroenterology certification examination. An application and fee must be submitted and then the exam itself be scheduled at a Pearson VUE testing center.

This exam will test your ability to use clinical judgement, diagnostic reasoning and evaluate your knowledge across different areas as a certified gastroenterologist. This exam requires knowledge of common and rare problems a gastroenterologist would be expected to consult on. The exam content includes several different medical areas each with a different percentage of expected content in the exam. These include:

    •    Esophagus
    •    Stomach and Duodenum
    •    Liver
    •    Biliary tract
    •    Pancreas
    •    Small Intestine
    •    Colon

In addition to these content areas, other topics that are covered can include endoscopy, genetic conditions, medical management and risks, nutritional support and quality benchmarking.

The exam itself is up to 240 multiple-choice questions with a single best answer focusing on patient scenarios. These questions are set up with a brief statement, case history, graph or picture and a list of possible options. You must decipher the most correct answer of those provided. The exam can take up to 10 hours to complete with several breaks. The current examination process is 4 sessions of 60 questions each for which you have 2 hours to complete. You are provided with a total of 100 minutes break to be divided between 3 break sessions.

The results of your exam will be transmitted to you electronically in a pass fail format. You can expect to learn of these results within 3 months of the date of the last scheduled exam in your speciality area. So long as you train, practice, and meet the gastroenterology certification requirements you are prepared for this process. According to the ABIM in 2015 94% of those who took the exam passed the first time.

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