ABR - About
The mission of the American Board of Radiology is to serve patients, the public, and the medical profession by certifying that its diplomates have acquired, demonstrated, and maintained a requisite standard of knowledge, skill, understanding, and performance essential to the safe and competent practice of diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics.
By 2020, the ABR will have advanced safety and quality in healthcare by setting the definitive professional standards for medical imaging, radiation oncology, and medical physics.
The ABR and ABMS
The ABR is one of 24 national medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Through ABMS, the boards work together to establish common standards for physicians to achieve and maintain board certification. The boards were founded by their respective specialties to protect the public by assessing and certifying doctors who meet specific educational, training, and professional requirements. The ABR is an independent, not-for-profit organization. For more information about ABMS, visit www.abms.org.
ABMS and the specialty boards are accountable both to the public and to the medical profession through:
- Helping patients
by providing information about the board certification process and which doctors are board certified.
- Supporting physicians
by creating programs that assist doctors in staying current in their field and improving their practice.
- Collaborating with healthcare leaders
to foster initiatives for the promotion and monitoring of healthcare quality.
- Transforming healthcare
by increasing awareness of the importance of board certification and lifelong learning in assuring quality care.
The ABR is founded
In his 1932 presidential address to the American College of Radiology (ACR), Dr. Arthur C. Christie, a Washington, DC, radiologist, stated the desirability of creating an organization—a new specialty board—to provide examinations for certifying physicians as specialists in the discipline of radiology. It would be called the American Board of Radiology.
A short time after his speech to the ACR, Dr. Christie repeated his proposal at a session of the American Medical Association (AMA) Section on Radiology in June 1933. It was received favorably. After two years of discussion among representatives of the four major national radiology societies (American Roentgen Ray Society, Radiological Society of North America, American Radium Society, and American College of Radiology), the ABR was incorporated in January 1934 in Washington, D.C. The AMA Section on Radiology was the fifth sponsor.
At the time of the ABR’s founding, bylaws were adopted and resolutions were established to ensure the ABR’s proper functioning. The primary charge of the Board was to provide examinations and certify physicians who sought recognition as radiologists. The Board found it necessary to define residency training requirements, which led it to co-sponsor residency review committees for diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology. In 1947, the Board began to examine and certify candidates for recognition as radiologic physicists.
Growth and change
Since 1934, the field of radiology has expanded dramatically. To allow physicians to “acquire and maintain” the appropriate knowledge and skill for their practice domains, radiation oncology and diagnostic radiology developed separate training programs, and both lengthened residency to four years. Medical physics, recognized as important from the outset, continues to play a critical role in the education of physician and physicist candidates for certification by the ABR.
New sponsors, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Association of University Radiologists, were added over the years (see links to sponsors). All eight organizations are represented on the Board of Trustees by three persons nominated from each of those organizations and elected by the ABR Trustees.
As the field of radiology has developed, various certificates have been added and deleted to accommodate the changes in practice and the adoption of new technology (see list of discontinued certificates). To ensure that its diplomates keep pace with ongoing dramatic changes in the knowledge, skill, and understanding essential to practice, the ABR began to issue time-limited certificates in 1994 and completed the transition to offering only time-limited certificates in 2002 [see Maintenance of Certification]. In addition, the ABR will soon abandon its “written” qualifying and oral diagnostic radiology examinations, and in their place, will implement new computer-based diagnostic radiology initial certification exams, known as the Core and Certifying Examinations. Since its inception in 1934, the ABR has issued more than 63,500 certificates.
In addition to the ABMS, the ABR maintains open working relationships with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the Residency Review Committees for Diagnostic Radiology and Radiation Oncology. The Board continues active interaction with its sponsoring organizations, other medical specialty boards, specialty societies, medical societies, residency program directors, chairmen of hospital departments, diplomates of this board, and the entire radiologic community.
For more information, read Dr. Gary Becker’s chapter from the ABR 75th Anniversary history book: “Past Influences, Present Transitions, and Future Directions.”