Congratulations, you've finished residency and are officially a podiatrist! Maybe you were convinced by one of our 5 Reasons to Become a Podiatrist. Now, one of the most important – and stressful – steps in a young podiatrist’s career is becoming board certified. With recent changes and the COVID-19 pandemic complicating the process, many young doctors are feeling overwhelmed. To help ease the process, we’ve gathered some great information to help you become and stay certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (ABFAS).
What is Podiatry Board Certification?
Through certification, podiatrists demonstrate competence in the practice of podiatric medicine. Physicians who pass the test have exemplary knowledge of foot and ankle surgery, from diagnosis to surgical treatment. This includes general medical problems to pathologic conditions to deformities and trauma. Podiatrists can earn ABFAS certification no more than seven years after finishing their residency.
Starting ABFAS Certification
After completing an accredited three-year residency program, new doctors are eligible for board certification. Young professionals who want to streamline the process are welcome to take an In-Training Examination through the ABFAS. This assesses the progress of training and education of residency programs and can help show a doctor’s strengths and weaknesses, helping guide further studying areas. Additionally, candidates may use the passing score of their In-Training Exam (ITE) to qualify for this process, instead of taking the regular CBPS exam.
After submitting payment and receiving approval, candidates may continue the process toward becoming ABFAS certified. This includes successfully completing Board Qualification Examinations wherein they review Foot and Ankle Surgery Didactic and NEW Foot and Ankle Surgery CBPS, as well as RRA Surgery Didactic or NEW RRA Surgery CBPS if the candidate so desires.
Before moving on to the next step, every doctor must submit the following:
- Residency Completion Certificate
- Active, unrestricted, state podiatric medical license
- Proof of surgical hospital privileges
Achieving Podiatric Board Certification
After becoming board-certified, a young podiatrist may take the certification examination. All physicians must pass a Foot and Ankle Surgery Case Review, and those pursuing it may also take the RRA Surgery Case Review.
We recommend finding more information on the ABFAS website, as candidates will need to pass the NEW CBPS exam if they have not passed the old Part II CBPS as of September 2020. The American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery will have the most up-to-date information, so be sure to stay alert.
Once a new podiatrist has passed their examination and submitted their details, all that’s left is to pay the annual fee and enjoy the pride of being a board-certified medical professional!
Staying Board Certified as a Podiatrist
It’s important to remember that maintaining board certification is a consistent endeavor. Historically, podiatrists had to be recertified at least every 10 years, lest they lose their standing. This ensured that providers were up-to-date on and provided the latest techniques to their patients.
However, doctors no longer follow the 10-year process for maintenance of certification. Instead, ABFAS has switched to the LEAD program, which is a process of continuous certification based on a longitudinal assessment. These changes began in 2022.
Changes You Need to Know
As technology changes and new research comes to light, the certification process will also change to reflect the times. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected board certifications across practices. That’s why the ABFAS has changed its policies for new certifications. If a young physician is in the final year of board qualification and COVID-19 has impeded their ability to pass the exams, they may apply for an extension. However, ABFAS will not consider applications that are submitted before a doctor’s final year, despite being more lenient due to the ongoing pandemic.
As mentioned above, the recertification process has been updated. Before, the recertification was analog, but now the LEAD program is an online process. Whereas doctors needed to become recertified every decade, the current process requires yearly training modules. Depending on the physician’s certification deadline, they will be required to complete different examinations with varying passing thresholds. While this change may put more pressure on older podiatrists, the mindset of the ABFAS is to keep professionals current and ease the process of staying certified. For more details, visit the LEAD certification page.
For more information about advancing your career, becoming a podiatrist, using time and money-saving tools, and more, reach out to us at CPMA. We’re glad to help!