Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Certification Requirements

Last verified on August 8, 2019
  • Complete one year in clinical training.
The first postgraduate year must be ACGME- or RCPSC- accredited clinical training in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery or surgical specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, family practice, emergency medicine, transitional year, or any combination of these. Credit for accredited training in other specialties may be granted on an individual basis after submission of the appropriate documents to the ABR. If there is an elective in diagnostic radiology, it must be in a department with an ACGME-accredited diagnostic radiology residency program and cannot be longer than two months. No more than a total of three months may be spent in radiation oncology and/or pathology.
  • Complete an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited diagnostic radiology program.
The program must be approved for training in diagnostic radiology by the Review Committee (RC) for diagnostic radiology of the ACGME, or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). A minimum of four months of the four-year diagnostic radiology training program must be spent in nuclear medicine. A minimum of three months must be spent in mammography/breast imaging. No more than 16 months may be spent in any one subspecialty or in research. Those considering careers in research may want to participate in the Holman Research Pathway.
  • Pass the ABR Core Exam.
Click here for more information on the Core Exam.
  • Pass the ABR Certifying Exam
Click here for more information on the Certifying Exam.
  • Provide proof of valid state or provincial medical license.
For those in training, a valid training license is acceptable.
  • Demonstrate high moral and ethical principles.
The American Board of Radiology expects candidates for initial certification to uphold fundamental moral and ethical principles.

The following regulations, which match ACGME requirements, are in effect for DR candidates entering in 2020 and later:

  • Clinical year – The prerequisite for entry into an ACGME-accredited DR residency requires the completion of an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited clinical year. The clinical year cannot be completed outside the U.S. or Canada and must take place before the candidate enters the DR residency program.  This does not apply to IMGs on the Alternate Pathway.
  • Credit for fellowship training  – In the past, some trainees have been granted approval to shorten their DR residency with credit given for radiology fellowships completed prior to entering the DR residency.  Starting on July 1, 2020, the ABR may consider prior ACGME-accredited fellowship training (pediatric radiology, neuroradiology, interventional radiology) completed before DR residency, but credit may not be granted. Current ACGME regulations require completion of an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited DR residency prior to taking an accredited fellowship, so these situations should be very rare.  Credit will NOT be granted for any non-ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited fellowship taken before the DR residency.  The only exception is nuclear radiology, where completion of one or more years of accredited nuclear medicine/nuclear radiology may count for one year of DR residency training.

Other Important Information

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) R38

Candidates who are participating in ACGME-approved training programs with research orientation and funding through the NIH R38 grant award mechanism, with requirements equivalent to those of the Holman Research Pathway, and have met all other requirements for initial certification, will be considered as eligible for initial certification.

Residency Transfers

Residents are expected to remain in the same program for all four years. If a resident wishes to transfer for any reason, that transfer must be approved by the initial program director as well as by the new program director. A list of satisfactorily completed rotations must be provided to the new program director, who can accept all or some of them. To process the transfer, the ABR must receive a signed letter from the initial program director and the new program director confirming the resident’s start and end training dates, if the resident left the initial program in good standing, and if prior training will be accepted by the new program.

Leaves of Absence

Leaves of absence and vacation may be granted to residents at the discretion of the program director in accordance with the institution’s rules. Depending on the length of absence granted by the program, the required period of graduate medical education may be extended accordingly. Residency program directors and their institutional GME offices determine the need for extension of residency training. Therefore, it is not up to the ABR to determine graduation dates for individual residents.

Failure to Qualify

If a program director fails to indicate in writing that a resident will have the required training and will have achieved adequate professional qualifications before the exam, documentation of the reason(s) must be submitted, along with evidence that the resident has been appropriately apprised of these deficiencies. If a program director states that a resident has not successfully completed one or more rotations, that statement must have the signature of two other faculty members from the same program, supporting the claim of unsatisfactory completion.