Initial Certification for Interventional Radiology

Credentialers and Practices

Last verified on July 23, 2019
On this page

The Interventional Radiology/Diagnostic Radiology Certificate

The specialty certificate in Interventional Radiology/Diagnostic Radiology is one of four specialty certificates offered by the ABR. This certificate was approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 2012. The Committee on Requirements of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has approved the program requirements for the Interventional Radiology Residency Program. These requirements can be found on the ACGME website.
The first IR/DR certifying exams were administered on October 15-16, 2017, and initial IR/DR certificates were issued to those who passed this inaugural exam. ABMS does not allow any of its Member Boards to issue two certificates covering the same specialty. Therefore, the ABR cannot issue both a VIR subspecialty certificate and an IR/DR specialty certificate, nor can we issue both a DR certificate and an IR/DR certificate to the same individual. As a result, the VIR subspecialty certificate became inactive on October 15, 2017.
ABR diplomates who hold a diagnostic radiology specialty certificate and a VIR subspecialty certificate were given a choice of converting both certificates to an IR/DR certificate or keeping only the DR certificate. As of October 15, 2017, those who did not indicate their choice had their certificates automatically converted to an IR/ DR Certificate.

Memo to Credentialers and Other Stakeholders

The ABR has prepared a memo to credentialers, hospitals, payers, and other stakeholders outlining the changes to IR certification and the impact on existing DR and VIR subspecialty certificates. Download and print the memo here.  

FAQs for Diplomates: Certificate Conversion and Credentialing


What exactly did the ABR do to educate hospitals, clinics, credentialing bodies, medical insurers, malpractice insurers, state boards, and the savvy general public about the IR/DR certificate so that we don’t have a fiasco at initial credentialing and renewal times?

The ABR is working with ABMS to ensure that the reporting of IR/DR certificates is displayed correctly in their system, CertiFACTS, which is used as a primary source verification. In addition, we have prepared a memo to credentialers, hospitals, payers, and other stakeholders outlining the changes to IR certification and the impact on existing DR and VIR subspecialty certificates. You can download and print the memo here.

What resources do you provide to help me support the case of a lapsed VIR CAQ to my local credentialing boards and/or hospital administration?

If you chose to convert to an IR/DR certificate, your VIR certificate does not show at all. Your IR/DR certificate is shown as “Valid” on the ABR website. If you have a continuous VIR subspecialty certificate and chose not to convert, it showed as “inactive, not maintained” on October 15,2017. If you have a time-limited VIR subspecialty certificate with a “valid-through” date and chose not to convert, it shows as “valid, not maintained” until the expiration date, at which point it will show as “expired.”  

I received a letter from an insurance company asking me whether I plan to take the VIR CAQ recertification test. My answer could negatively affect my reimbursement rates. How do I respond to this inquiry given these process changes to ensure I am not punished?

The continuous IR/DR specialty certificate is now the official and only ABR and ABMS certification for IR. Because the certificate requires maintenance, you can truthfully answer that you are participating in MOC, including ABR’s requirements for MOC Part 3 (Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills), which is now Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA). If the company requires further clarification, please refer them to the ABR.  

If you don’t have an IR certification, some national payers will not reimburse for any IR-related E/M codes. How do you ensure the insurance companies recognize this new certification? How do you ensure that the lapsed VIR CAQ isn’t perceived as having dropped my IR practice?

The ACGME has approved the IR program requirements, and institutions began applying in 2015. Each training institution needs to review the requirements and determine whether and when to offer interventional radiology training though an IR residency program. The impact of new IR residencies on DR residencies will be determined by the course of action taken by each training institution. Trainees currently enrolled in VIR fellowships will be able to complete their training through June 30, 2020.  

The ABR states: “October 15, 2017, will be a landmark day for interventional radiology. On this day, qualified interventional radiologists (IRs) will be issued a new board certificate that reflects their unique stature as IRs and their singular role in treating and managing patients through image-guided interventions.” Can you define “unique stature and singular role” and what image-guided interventions, specifically, are you referring to? Does the ABR recommend to insurance companies that only a physician with an IR/DR certificate perform image-guided procedures?

The competencies of the IR/DR certificate include all the current competencies of the VIR subspecialty certificate and the DR specialty certificate. The change in stature of IR from subspecialty to specialty was based upon changes in training to emphasize periprocedural care and IR training. No new procedures were added. The ABR does not advocate directly with insurance companies.