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The American Board of Ophthalmology was the first medical specialty board founded in the United States, and it awards the only medical specialty certificate in ophthalmology recognized by both the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA). Since 1916, nearly 30,000 eye doctors have challenged themselves to meet the rigorous certification standards.
Certification is only granted to ophthalmologists who meet a series of accredited medical training requirements, sign a pledge to indicate their intentions to practice with compassion, integrity, and respect for human dignity, and complete an intensive evaluations including two examinations (a Written Qualifying Examination and an Oral Examination).
The physicians who meet all the requirements for initial board certifications become diplomats of the Board and earn a certificate that remains valid for a period of 10 years. All Diplomates are required to actively maintain their certificate through lifelong learning and practice improvement process known as Maintenance of Certification in order to extend the validity of their certificate.
In order to be eligible to apply for Board certification, the physician must be a graduate of an allopathic or osteopathic medical school, followed by a year of internship with direct patient care. This post-graduate clinical year must be in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and include direct patient care experience in fields such as emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, or other broad experience in patient care. In addition to this year, all applicants must complete an entire formal graduated residency training program in ophthalmology lasting 36 months or longer, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
In addition to these requirements, all applicants for Board Certification must hold a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. The Board certification application and examination process requires a minimum of one and one-half to two years to complete. During this time, a candidate is usually in clinical practice or fellowship program and acquiring advanced training in a subspecialty of ophthalmology.