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Initial Certification

Initial Certification > Medical Physics


Medical Physics

Initial Certification information is for candidates who have not been certified in one of the specialties of medical physics (therapeutic medical physics, diagnostic medical physics, or nuclear medical physics).

The Certificate

A certificate will be issued to each candidate who has satisfactorily met the training requirements specified by the board and has passed the computer-based examinations (Part 1 and Part 2) and the Part 3 (oral) examination, demonstrating an adequate level of knowledge and ability in medical physics in accordance with the definition as stated in the bylaws, policies, and procedures of the American Board of Radiology. ABR Medical Physics Certificates issued in 2002 and beyond are time-limited certificates.

A certificate granted by this Board does not of itself confer, or purport to confer, any degree or legal qualifications, privileges, or license to practice therapeutic medical physics, diagnostic medical physics, or nuclear medical physics, nor does it confer an ability to legally use or supervise procedures with radioactive materials regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), licensure for which can only be granted by the NRC. The certificate is intended for medical physicists and cannot be used as a credential to practice any form of medicine.

Time-limited certificates are valid contingent upon meeting the requirements of Maintenance of Certification (MOC).

Throughout the period for which you hold a time-limited certificate, you are expected to continue learning and improving your skills in a personalized program (see MOC information), which will be evaluated annually on a rolling three-year "look-back" window. One of the requirements to maintain a time-limited certificate is successful completion of the cognitive examination (MOC Part 3), which must be passed every 10 years.

Your certification status and MOC status will be publicly reported on our website, as well as on the official public reporting website of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), www.certificationmatters.org. This shows interested parties that you are keeping up with the latest developments in your field.

The Board reserves the right to make changes in its fees, policies, and procedures at any time and cannot assume responsibility for giving advance notice thereof.



Time Limitation for Attaining Initial Certification ("Board Eligibility")

Candidates have specific time limits for remaining eligible to be initially certified by the ABR and to maintain their status as board eligible. For medical physics, “completion of training” is defined as completion of a CAMPEP-accredited residency program or approval for Part 2 of the initial certification examination, whichever is earlier.

The termination dates for board eligibility status are listed below.

Completion of Training or Part 2 Approval

Before January 1, 2011: December 31, 2016

January 1, 2011, or later: six full calendar years from the end of residency training or Part 2 approval, whichever comes first.

After the period of eligibility ends, candidates failing to successfully complete the initial certification process will no longer be considered by the ABR as board eligible, will no longer be permitted to designate themselves as such for communications or credentialing purposes, and will no longer be reported as such to external agencies in verification letters. Please click here for more information on board eligibility and reinstatement of board-eligible status.

In addition, the ABR Board of Trustees sets a limit for the time from approval for Part 1 and passing the Part 1 examination.

The required completion dates for Part 1 are listed below:

Approval Date for Part 1                                                

December 31, 2010 or earlier: December 31, 2016                 

Jan. 1, 2011, or later: five full calendar years from Part 1 approval

If the Part 1 exam is not passed within this period, one year of additional medical physics academic training at an institution with a CAMPEP-accredited medical physics education program is required before a candidate may re-enter the examination process. More information on the additional training requirements is available in the Medical Physics Part 1 Exam: Re-entry Eligibility policy located here.

Questions related to these or other board certification issues can be addressed to information@theabr.org, or by calling (520) 790-2900.


Frequently Asked Questions

Medical Physics Board Eligibility

When can someone become approved to take Part 1?

The candidate must file an application. Currently, one must be enrolled in or have completed a CAMPEP-accredited program (graduate program, DMP program, certificate program, or medical physics residency).

The ABR then notifies the candidate that he or she is approved for Part 1.

Is there a time limit between the time one has passed Part 1 and the time one must be approved for Part 2?

Yes. Effective January 1, 2015, candidates who have passed the Part 1 examination will be allowed 10 years from the date they passed Part 1 to become board eligible. Board eligibility begins once a candidate is approved for the ABR Part 2 exam, or has completed a CAMPEP-accredited residency, whichever occurs first. The first group of candidates affected by this policy are those who passed Part 1 in 2007 or prior. The 10-year limit for these candidates will expire in 2017.


For more information, please see: Policy Limiting the Time between Passing the Part 1 Examination and the Beginning of Board Eligibility to 10 years.




Additional Certifications for Diplomates Previously Certified in Another Medical Physics Specialty

Any ABR diplomate certified in at least one specialty of medical physics (diagnostic medical physics, nuclear medical physics, or therapeutic medical physics) may pursue board certification in additional medical physics specialties. A candidate who begins pursuing a second certificate may abandon it to pursue a certificate in a different medical physics specialty. The candidate may not, however, pursue two additional certificates at the same time. If the candidate is enrolled in the MOC program, he or she must be meeting the MOC requirements in his or her first medical physics specialty, while pursuing an additional certificate. In applying to the ABR for certification in an additional specialty, the diplomate must demonstrate that he or she has the equivalent of at least one year of clinical experience in that specialty. The additional year of clinical experience cannot begin until after the diplomate is fully certified in the previous discipline(s). Another individual, who is certified by the ABR or ABMP in the specialty for which the individual is seeking additional certification, must attest that the individual has the requisite one year of clinical experience in that specialty. Candidates seeking additional certification in Nuclear Medical Physics may also use a supervisor who is certified by the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine (ABSNM). The supervisor must also attest that the training has covered the items in the attached list of ABR standards. (Note: Any training items not completed at the time of application must be completed by May 31 of the year in which the exam will be taken.) In the area of general medical physics competency, the supervisor must attest that the candidate is trained in appropriate medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice as described in AAPM Report 249. Finally, the supervisor must attest that the candidate meets the commonly accepted canons of ethical behavior such as those described in the AAPM Code of Ethics and is qualified to practice medical physics independently. The clinical experience need not be obtained in a full-time position but should be consistent with the requirements of the specialty, with the total time committed to clinical experience in the specialty being one year or more. One year is defined as at least 80 percent FTE effort.

Upon ABR acceptance of the application, the diplomate will be admitted into the Part 2 and Part 3 (oral) examination process. The standard ABR exam fee schedule will apply. After the diplomate has been approved for Part 2 in an additional specialty, he or she will be considered a board-eligible candidate in the additional specialty and will be allowed six years to complete the certification process. If certification is not completed within six years, the candidate’s board-eligible status will expire, and the candidate will have to complete at least one year of additional training at an institution that has a CAMPEP-accredited residency program before a new application can be filed. For more information on board eligibility, click here.

Diplomates who apply for a second or third certification must receive approval to take Part 2 within four years, or the ABR will remove the application from the certification process. In this case, the diplomate would then need to complete a year of clinical experience at an institution that has a CAMPEP-accredited residency program before a new application could be filed.  

Beginning in 2019, the clinical experience for additional certifications must be prospective. The diplomate and a supervisor must develop clinical experience and supervision plans prior to the initiation of the clinical experience. The supervisor must be a medical physicist certified by the ABR in the specialty for which the diplomate is seeking additional certification. Details will be available in 2017.

Applications for certification in a 2nd or 3rd discipline are accepted between December 1 and January 31. Please check back here on December 1, 2017, for the 2018 exam application.