Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Certifying Exam

Last verified on June 19, 2017
The computer-based Certifying Exam can be taken 15 months after completion of diagnostic radiology residency. The Core Exam must be passed before a candidate is eligible to take the Certifying Exam.
The Certifying Exam is an image-rich, computer-based exam administered in two ABR exam centers: the Chicago Exam Center near O’Hare Airport and the Tucson Exam Center at the Board office. Please see the DR Exam Dates and Locations page for information on the Certifying Exam schedule.

Exam Content

The exam emphasizes synthesis of information, differential diagnosis, and patient management. Aspects of basic sciences that are important in imaging are included on the exam. The exam is five hours long and is offered twice yearly. It consists of four modules, which are described below.

Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology

Essentials of Diagnostic Radiology is a required module that includes basic knowledge every radiologist should know (for example, recognizing child abuse, pneumothorax, shock bowel, and subdural hematoma).

Clinical Practice Modules

The other three modules are in clinical practice areas selected by the individual, based on training, experience, and practice emphasis (one, two, or three different practice areas may be selected). The clinical practice areas are general radiology, breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, pediatric, thoracic, ultrasound, genitourinary, and vascular and interventional radiology.
All clinical categories have modules with two levels of difficulty – fundamental and advanced. If more than one module is taken in a given category, content will be at the advanced level on the second (and third, if relevant) module.
All clinical modules will contain Noninterpretive Skills (NIS) content: general topics of importance to the practice of radiology, such as recognition and management of contrast reactions, error prevention, communication skills, professionalism, ethics, and other aspects of practice.
Each of the clinical practice areas also includes some items relevant to pediatric radiology and physics. In addition, the second portion of the Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE) is integrated into the Certifying Exam. The RISE elements on the Certifying Exam will be devoted to clinically oriented practice scenarios, which emphasize evaluation of practical knowledge of radioisotope safety and handling, as well as regulatory compliance. For more details, please refer to the RISE Study Guide or the RISE portion of the Core Exam Study Guide. Also see the RISE FAQs.

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