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Conflict of Interest

The Board maintains a rigorous conflict of interest policy. As such, to maintain the confidence of the public and the medical profession in the integrity of the Board, it is important for those doing its work to avoid certain activities that could provide opportunity for a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof. A conflict of interest is defined as an instance wherein a competing outside activity or holding could influence or appear to influence the Board’s activities in the area of policy development, evaluation of training programs, or examination development.

No Board member shall participate in any discussion or vote on any matter in which he or she (or a member of his or her immediate family) has a conflict of interest. All board employees and officers shall avoid all conflicts and disclose all potential conflicts between their respective personal, professional or business interests and the interests of the Board.

As an alternative to regulating investment or employment, the Board has chosen to manage matters related to the appearance of a conflict of interest by encouraging disclosure of significant financial interests or relationships and abstention from participation in decision-making related to a matter that could give rise to a conflict of interest (due to a material financial interest or relationship).

Annually, Board members, test committee members, written examination proctors, the President and CEO, and staff members of the Board are required to complete a form disclosing informational conflicts and potential conflicts of interest.

Any individual who participates in any review course that is publicized as being a board review course, or in any course that could be construed as a board review course, or who has edited or provided written or audiovisual materials for publications identified as preparation for Board examinations, or who copies, reproduces, or discloses examination materials or content should not participate as an examiner in any oral examination, as a proctor in any written examination, or as a member of any Board committee for at least 12 months subsequent to the course or publication of any written or audiovisual materials.

Rules and Regulations

In carrying out its specified functions, the Board has formulated rules and regulations to guide its activities and to communicate to applicants and other interested persons its policies regarding training requirements, examinations, fees, etc. These rules and regulations are amended from time to time. The statements contained in this publication are the most recent amendments and represent the policies of the Board as of the date of this publication. Visit for the most current information. The Board has authority to periodically issue and thereafter to amend the rules and regulations relating to the issuance and revocation of certificates of qualification in the practice of psychiatry, neurology, child neurology, and the recognized subspecialties.

The Board may conduct examinations at such times and places as it deems appropriate. The Board reserves the right to limit the number of candidates admitted to any scheduled examination. The administration and grading of all examinations shall be at the sole discretion of the Board.


Subject to the exceptions noted below, throughout the certification and maintenance of certification processes, and in order to maintain a valid certificate and ABPN Diplomate status, physicians must, at all times, hold an active, full, and unrestricted allopathic and/or osteopathic license to practice medicine in at least one state, commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States or province of Canada. If licenses are or have been held in more than one jurisdiction, all licenses held by the physician in jurisdictions in which the physician practices medicine must be full and unrestricted to meet this requirement. An active, full, and unrestricted medical license must be maintained even if a physician is out of the country for extended periods of time.

An unrestricted medical license is a license to practice medicine that has been issued by an appropriate and authorized licensing board and contains no restrictions, conditions, or contingencies on the physician’s privilege to practice professionally and does not have any added requirements to remain full and active. Restrictions include but are not limited to any revocation, suspension, limitation or prohibition against attaining any Drug Enforcement Administration license and/or any licensing board action that results in a revocation, cancellation, suspension, condition, obligation, requirement, probation, forfeiture, surrender, failure to renew, prohibition against applying or renewing, lapse, inactive status or contingency imposed upon a license or in any way relevant to the physician’s privilege to practice professionally regardless of whether the restriction was imposed by an adjudicated order, agreed order, non-contested order, consent order, agreement, stipulation, settlement, or plea agreement. In addition, restrictions include any incarceration as a result of any criminal charges, indictments and/or convictions.

A diplomate who is in possession of a restricted medical license pursuant to these policies in jurisdictions in which the physician practices medicine or practiced medicine at the time the restriction was imposed, whether the Board knows of the restriction or not, no longer meets the Board’s licensure requirements and shall, without any action necessary by the Board or any right to a hearing, automatically lose his or her diplomate status in all specialties and subspecialties for which the individual has received a certificate from the Board, and all such certificates shall be invalid.

A physician in possession of any restricted medical license in jurisdictions in which the physician practices medicine or practiced medicine at the time the restriction was imposed, even if the physician also possesses an unrestricted license in a different jurisdiction, will not be scheduled for examination, be issued a certificate, be authorized to be in possession of a certificate, or be allowed to represent himself or herself as an ABPN-certified physician.

It is the obligation of the candidate/diplomate to inform the Board immediately upon any change in licensure status.


  • Restriction of a physician’s medical license does not include voluntary participation in an impaired physicians’ program or other appropriate, monitored alcohol or chemical substance-abuse recovery program if the physician has NOT been reported to either the National Practitioner Data Bank or the Data Bank of the Federation of State Medical Boards.
  • Restriction of a physician’s medical license does not include medical licenses that, when issued, are limited to a geographic area within a jurisdiction (e.g., practice limited to under-served areas), as long as such licenses are not in any way limited due to, because of, or by virtue of a disciplinary, legal, or administrative action against the license holder.
  • At its sole discretion, the Board may review instances of licensure restrictions to determine whether such restrictions constitute a violation of the Board’s licensure requirements.
  • Applicants who do not yet have an unrestricted medical license because they are in training are not required to submit a copy of their medical license at the time of application for the Certification Examination. However, such applicants must update or report their unrestricted medical license, including the expiration date, no later than the date specified in the Requirements for Admission section of the appropriate Information for Applicants publication. Applicants holding more than one license must provide details of each license. Applicants who do not provide proof that they are in possession of a full, unrestricted medical license by date specified in the Requirements for Admission section will not be accepted for examination.

Unless otherwise specified, all training must be completed in programs accredited by the ACGME.

For additional training information, see the individual Information for Applicants document for a specific exam.

Leave of Absence Policy:
The ABPN requires that all programs allow a minimum of four weeks of leave time (including vacation, sick time, maternity/paternity leave, etc.) during training per year. These four weeks should be averaged over the four-year training period. Leave or vacation time may NOT be used to reduce the total amount of required residency training or to make up deficiencies in training. Programs must allow a minimum of 6 weeks of time away from training for purposes of parental, caregiver, and medical leave at least once during training, without exhausting all other allowed time away from training and without extending training. Within ABPN and ACGME policy guidelines, it is up to the program director and the program clinical competency committee to determine whether a given resident has met training requirements or must extend their period of training.

Revocation of Certificates

The Board has the authority to revoke any certificate issued by it for cause or to place a certificate holder on probation for a fixed or indefinite period of time.

Board Eligibility

The ABPN does not recognize or use the term “Board eligible” and does not issue statements concerning “Board eligibility.” The Board informs an applicant of admissibility to examination only when the applicant has an active, approved application on file in the Board office.

  • Effective January 1, 2012, ABPN will require a physician to become Board certified within seven years following successful completion of ACGME-accredited or ABPN approved residency training in their primary specialty or ACGME-accredited subspecialty.
  • Graduates can take the ABPN Certification Examination as many times as allowed during the seven-year period.
  • For example, individuals who completed an accredited residency program prior to January 1, 2012 had until January 1, 2019 to become board certified.
  • Individuals who do not become certified during the 7-year period (or before January 1, 2019 for those who completed residency training before January 1, 2012) will be required to (1) repeat the required clinical skills evaluations; and (2) complete one block of Continuing Certification (CC)/MOC requirements [(90 CME credits, 24 self-assessment CME credits, and 1 PIP activity (includes a clinical module or feedback module)] in order to apply and be credentialed to take the ABPN Certification Examination. CC/MOC block requirements are valid for three years and must be completed at the time of the application.
  • Diplomates must obtain initial certification in an ABPN primary specialty prior to obtaining subspecialty certification. Physicians who do not pass the subspecialty certification examination within seven years of graduating from an ACGME-accredited subspecialty program will be required to complete one block of CC/MOC activities (90 CME credits, 24 self-assessment CME credits, and one PIP activity) in order to apply and be credentialed to take an ABPN subspecialty certification examination. CC/MOC block requirements are valid for three years and must be completed at the time of the application.
Review Courses

The Board does not endorse or recommend any texts or other teaching aids identified as “board preparation” material. Furthermore, neither the Board nor any of its committees has any affiliation with or responsibility for programs identifying themselves as “board review courses.”

Cancellation Policy

The Board is not liable for candidate travel and/or other related expenses incurred as a result of the cancellation of an examination.

Policy Regarding Medical or Other Emergencies

The Board requires candidates to sit for examinations for which they have applied and/or are scheduled. The Board acknowledges that unforeseen medical or other emergencies may prevent candidates from sitting for examinations to which they have applied and/or are scheduled.

Policy on Irregular Behavior, Including Unethical Behavior of Candidates

The Board believes that the ethics, conduct, and behavior of its diplomates and candidates for certification are relevant and important. The following rules apply:

  1. Submission of false and/or fraudulent credentials or application information is impermissible. Any physician who obtains, attempts to obtain, or assists another person to obtain certification, recertification, or maintenance of certification by deceptive means, including but not limited to submitting or assisting another person to submit to the Board any application, credential, licensure information, or other information or documentation that contains a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission will be deemed to have violated this rule. Any physician who violates this rule will be subject to all available disciplinary actions, including but not limited to legal action by the Board, certificate revocation, invalidation of examination results, and/or will be cause for the Board’s refusal to admit a candidate to examination for up to five years.
  2. Physicians must accurately represent their certification status at all times. This includes descriptions in curriculum vitae, advertisements, publications, directories, business cards, letterheads, and oral representations. Diplomates with expired time-limited certificates may not claim Board certification and must revise all descriptions of their qualifications accordingly. Physicians may not manufacture, modify, reproduce, distribute, or use fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized ABPN certificates or other documents; falsely claim to be certified by the ABPN; misrepresent their ABPN certificate status; otherwise use ABPN certificates or other documents in violation of trademark and/or copyright laws; or assist another to do any of the above. Any physician who violates this rule will be subject to all available disciplinary actions, including but not limited to legal action by the Board, certificate revocation, invalidation of examination results, and/or will be cause for the Board’s refusal to admit a candidate to examination for up to five years.
  3. The performance of all physicians taking an examination will be monitored. Test center personnel will notify the Board of any candidate that appears to give or receive assistance or otherwise engages in dishonest, disruptive, or other irregular behavior during the examination. Scores on examinations (computer-administered and/or oral) will be invalidated for any irregular behavior. Statistical analyses may be used to confirm suspected cheating. If an examination score is invalidated, the candidate may submit a written appeal within 30 days of notice of invalidation. (See Examination Procedures section for the appeal procedures.) If an examination score is invalidated because of irregular behavior, depending on the irregular behavior, the Board will: not consider the candidate for examination for a period of up to five years; revoke any current certificates; and/or may bring legal action against the candidate. A new completed application, a current application fee, and an examination fee will be required when and if such a candidate is allowed to apply for an examination.
  4. Irregular behavior is any behavior that undermines, disrupts, or threatens the safety, integrity, or validity of the certification process and/or examination of the Board, whether it occurs before, during, or after an examination.
    Irregular behavior shall include but is not limited to the following conduct:

    • Impersonating an examinee or engaging someone else to take the examination by proxy
    • Taking or attempting to take an examination without being authorized by the ABPN to sit for the examination
    • Copying or attempting to copy answers from another candidate’s examination
    • Knowingly permitting or assisting another candidate to copy one’s answers on an examination
    • Knowingly assisting another candidate, in any way, with an examination
    • Viewing or attempting to view a computer screen other than one’s own
    • Having or seeking access to examination materials before the examination
    • Unauthorized possession, reproduction, replication, copying, or disclosure of examination materials or content, at any time, including but not limited to memorizing examination materials for use, distribution, or disclosure
    • Posting and/or discussion of examination content and/or answers, including but not limited to the Internet
    • Use of audio, visual, or other equipment to record any part of an examination
    • Offering any financial or other benefit to any director, officer, employee, proctor, diplomate, or other agent or representative of the Board in return for any right, privilege, or benefit that is not granted by the Board to other similarly situated candidates or persons
    • Not complying with proctors’ or examiners’ instructions
    • Disregarding or violating time limits
    • Possessing, acquiring, and/or assisting another to acquire unauthorized materials during an examination (e.g., including but not limited to food, drink, cellular phones, pagers, PDAs, recording devices or other electronic devices, photographic materials, books, study material, reference material, or personal belongings)
    • Making or receiving telephone calls during an examination
    • Any other form of behavior that disrupts, threatens, offends, insults, assaults, or impedes any other examinee, the examination process, any proctor or other representative of the ABPN, including but not limited to repeated or excessive verbal complaints
    • Any other behavior that may cast doubt on the examination results or those of another person
    • Leaving the testing center’s building during a test section
  5. Notification of any Board disciplinary action may be sent to legitimately interested third parties, including the American Medical Association, state medical societies, medical licensing boards, and appropriate specialty societies.
Policy Regarding Appeals

The Board provides applicants appeal procedures for certain negative determinations. Please see the individual Information for Applicant document for a specific examination for more information.