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Pain Medicine

Deadlines, Fees and Content for Initial Certification in Pain Medicine

*Application deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. CST.

History and Statement of Principles

Pain medicine is the medical discipline concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of the entire range of painful disorders. Because of the vast scope of the field, pain medicine is a multidisciplinary subspecialty.

The expertise of several disciplines is brought together in an effort to provide the maximum benefit to each patient. Although the care of patients is influenced heavily by the primary specialty of physicians who subspecialize in pain medicine, each member of the pain treatment team understands the anatomic and physiologic basis of pain perception, the psychological factors that modify the pain experience, and the basic principles of pain medicine.

In March 1998, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., (ABPN) and the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) joined the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) in recognition of pain medicine as an interdisciplinary subspecialty. The respective Boards have agreed on a single standard of certification.

Computer-Administered Examination Process

The ABA will administer a computer-based examination covering the various content areas of pain medicine. ABPN Diplomates may apply to the ABPN for admission to the certifying process. Diplomates of the ABA and the ABPMR are required to apply for certification through their respective Board.

The examination in pain medicine has been administered annually beginning in the year 2000. Approximately two months before the examination date, the ABA will mail a notice to all accepted candidates describing registration procedures and deadlines.

At the examination, candidates will be required to present the registration letter from the ABA along with government-issued identification that includes both a photograph and a signature. Notes, textbooks, other reference materials, scratch paper, and/or electronic devices may NOT be taken into the examination room. Telephone calls may NOT be made during the examination.

Once an applicant has been accepted for examination, the candidate must pass the examination within three (3) opportunities. The ABPN, at its discretion, may excuse the candidate from, at most, one examination without forfeiture of an opportunity. If a candidate fails to satisfy the examination requirement in the prescribed number of opportunities or time period, for whatever reason, and reapplies, the candidate must have completed 12 months of ACGME-accredited training in pain medicine to qualify for the examination.

Specific Training Requirements

All candidates applying or reapplying for certification in pain medicine must complete 12 months of ACGME-accredited training in pain medicine. Training must be completed by July 31 of the year of the examination.

The required one year of specialized training in pain medicine may be completed on a part-time basis as long as it is not less than half time; credit is not given for periods of training lasting less than one year except under special circumstances that must be approved by the ABPN Credentials Committee. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide detailed documentation from the respective training directors including the exact dates (month/day/year to month/day/year) and outlining training content, duties, and responsibilities. Each case is considered on an individual basis.

Negative Determination and Reexamination (for Pain Medicine only)

A failing grade on the examination is considered a negative determination. A candidate who receives a negative determination on the first examination for which he or she was accepted will have two additional opportunities to pay a reexamination fee and repeat the examination. All additional opportunities must be used within the prescribed period for which the application is active. The ABPN may, at its discretion, excuse a candidate from at most one pain medicine examination without forfeiture of an opportunity.