The American Board of Medical Physics (ABMP), founded in 1987, currently offers primary certifications in two of the fields of radiological sciences: Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics and Medical Health Physics. Originally, the ABMP certified medical physicists in the traditional disciplines of Radiation Therapy Physics and Diagnostic Imaging Physics but by agreement with the American Board of Radiology (ABR) in 2001, the ABMP discontinued new examinations in these two sub-disciplines.
Today the ABMP has nearly 600 certified physicists on its active roles and offers ongoing programs for the maintenance of certification (MOC) for its diplomates in Radiation Therapy Physics, Diagnostic Imaging Physics, Nuclear Medicine Physics, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics and Medical Health Physics.
Recently, due to increasing costs, the ABMP Board has voted to increase the recertification fees and change the initial term. A new structure for MPCEC’s has also been determined. These are discussed below. Additionally there have been numerous questions regarding the ABR/ABMP agreement and the Letter of Certification Equivalence (LoCE). Therefore, in consultation with the ABR, we present some FAQ’s with answers that give the latest update on these topics.
FAQ’s 1. Q: Regarding Recertification and Maintenance of Certification what are the policies for ABMP diplomates effective January 1, 2009?
A: The new policies are:
Term: The initial ABMP certification term will be for 5 years and then renewable every 5 years thereafter (no longer 10 years).
Verification of Standing: diplomate must verify professional standing by submitting an attestation statement from a board-certified medical physicist and a physician.
Continuing Education: Effective beginning January 1, 2014, recertification will require 125 MPCEC’s during the previous 5 year cycle. This means that for a diplomate seeking recertification for the five year term beginning in 2009, i.e.:
The 2009 – 2013 recertification term: your MPCEC requirements will not change from the previous requirements (72 hrs for the past three years, etc; as listed on the current ABMP Recertification Form). These hours do not change for this renewal in 2009.
However, if you wish to seek recertification for the next 5 year term, i.e.:
The 2014 – 2018 recertification term: effective in 2009 and thereafter, your MPCEC requirements will increase to 125 MPCEC’s during the previous 5 year cycle. These must be reported when you renew for the next time in 2013. Therefore, for recertification in 2014, diplomates must begin to accumulate the new annual MPCEC requirements beginning in 2009 and each year thereafter.
The process is the same for these later recertification dates:
For 2010-2014, 2011-2015, 2012-2016 and 2013-2017 recertifications: your MPCEC requirements will not change from the previous requirements (72 hrs for the past three years, etc; as listed on the current ABMP Recertification Form). These hours do not change for this renewal.
For your next recertification (2015-2019, 2016-2020, 2017-2021 and 2018-2022): your MPCEC requirements will increase to 125 MPCEC’s during the previous 5 year cycle. These must be reported when you renew for the next time. Therefore, after 2014, diplomates must begin to accumulate the new annual MPCEC requirements beginning 5 years prior to their renewal date.
Category 2 credits can be obtained (1 CEC unit per hour) from:
- non-accredited meetings and conferences
- books or chapters read or published
- in-service presentations, lectures or articles.
More information on MPCEC’s can be obtained from the CAMPEP website (see Policy and Procedures tab).
FAQ’s 2. Q: I am an ABMP diplomate who has recently been recertified by the ABMP. I received my initial Letter of Certification Equivalence (LoCE) in May 2006 but did not enroll in the ABR MOC program at that time. I assumed that it would be automatically renewed until 2015, as long as I remained recertified by the ABMP. I applied in 2007, enclosing my ABMP recertification notice, to receive my second LoCE but was rejected. Why was I rejected?
A: In order to receive a new LoCE if the original was received from the ABR after 12/31/2002, you must have enrolled and currently be participating in the ABR MOC program.
Article 7.2 of the original agreement between the ABR and ABMP (July 9, 2001) states “those ABMP diplomates who attain the ABR letter of certification equivalence after December 31, 2002 will be required to participate in the ABR’s Maintenance of Certification program in order to maintain the letter of certification equivalence.”
FAQ’s 3. Q: I requested and received a letter of certification equivalence from the ABR after December 31, 2002. I did not join the ABR MOC Program. Can I maintain my LoCE indefinitely without joining the ABR MOC program?
A: No. For diplomates who received their LoCE after Dec 31, 2002, there were 2 requirements for them to receive an additional LoCE upon expiration of the previous, namely,
- maintain your ABMP certification through the ABMP recertification process, and
- enroll in the ABR MOC program by 12/31/2006.
These conditions are stated in the articles of agreement between the ABR and the ABMP and have been announced through various documents/communications from the ABR and ABMP to the diplomates.
Even though you can no longer hold a LoCE, you will retain your full ABMP certification as long as you remain an active diplomate by continuing to fulfill the ABMP recertification requirements listed below.
FAQ’s 4. Q: Can an ABMP-certified physicist holding a LoCE still participate in the ABR’s MOC Program?
A: No, again only those who enrolled by the mutually-agreed upon deadline of December 31, 2006 can now participate. But for those who did enroll, by fulfilling the requirements of MOC cycle, they will receive ABR “maintenance of certification” certificates and be listed as ABR diplomates. During the initial cycle, participants must maintain their certification with ABMP, as well as their LoCE with the ABR. Participation in the ABR MOC includes fulfillment of requirements in professional standing (licensure or attestations), lifelong learning (earning continuing education credits, SDEPs , Self Assessment Modules (SAMs) described on the “Requirements” page on the ABR web site), the computer-based cognitive exam, and practice quality improvement.
FAQ’s 5. Q: The original ABR/ABMP agreement specified a date (December 31, 2002), before which if you got your letter of certification equivalence (LoCE) that you did NOT have to submit to the MOC process but could continue to recertify by ABMP and keep a LoCE. How do those of us who fall under this “protection” demonstrate that we are in this group? Is there a record or list somewhere?
A: If you received the LoCE from the ABR on or prior to December 31, 2002, you are not required to participate in the ABR recertification program and can maintain the LoCE indefinitely without charge. However, to do so you must:
- maintain your certification with ABMP by recertifying in a timely manner
- apply to the ABR to renew the LoCE after each ABMP recertification
Unless both of these conditions are met, your LoCE will be terminated.
The ABR maintains a list of those who received the LoCE before 12/31/2002.
FAQ’s 6. Q: I see in some presentations the statement by the ABR that “the LoCE process will disappear entirely in 2015”. Does this apply to the group referred in Q#2 above? I believe the intention of the agreement was for these folks to be considered equivalent to those ABR diplomates who also remained exempt from this process.
A: The LoCE for those ABMP diplomats who applied before 12/31/2002 will not end in 2015. These diplomates can continue the renewal processes described above indefinitely. Additionally, the Working Agreement- (Article 6.2) states “the ABR acknowledges that ABMP diplomates with the LoCE in a traditional field of Medical Physics should be recognized as equivalent to ABR diplomates (in the same traditional field) in all guidelines, standards, regulations, and privileges of scientific, professional, and regulatory bodies” . Medical Physicists receiving a LoCE are eligible for ACR membership on the same basis as those certified by the ABR.
FAQ’s 7. Q: I recently decided not to recertify with the ABMP. Can I continue to state that I remain certified by the ABMP?
A: No, you have been placed on the ABMP’s inactive list. The American Board of Medical Physics recognizes the importance of continuing professional development and awards certification on a time limited basis. The Board of Directors instituted a five-year recertification period after the initial ten-year certification. To remain listed on the ABMP Registry of Certified Medical Physicists, diplomates must renew their initial certification every five years thereafter. ABMP recertification has required two essential components that must be updated for each recertification cycle:
- a statement of current medical physics practice.
- documentation that the requisite number of continuing education credits have been obtained during the past recertification cycle.
Without this current information, your certification becomes inactive. Therefore you may no longer list ABMP certification with your credentials.
If you wish to reactivate an inactive certification, contact the ABMP Executive Director for the process.