ABMS Subspecialty Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine
In 2006 the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) approved the creation of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) as a subspecialty of 10 participating boards. The cosponsoring boards include the American Boards of:
There are 7,351 ABMS/AOA CAQ subspecialty-certified physicians in hospice and palliative medicine.
The first administration for both exams occurred in 2008, kicking off a "grandfathering period," offering a direct pathway for physicians already working in the field with clinical competence to obtain subspecialty certification without having to complete a 12-month fellowship. However, after the 2012 ABMS exam and 2013 AOA exam, all physicians are required to complete a 12-month, accredited, hospice and palliative medicine fellowship to be eligible to take the certification examination.
If you're a midcareer physician interested in certification but ineligible for certification through ABMS or AOA, learn more about hospice medical director certification through the Hospice Medical Director Certification Board (HMDCB).
This is only general information. It is important to contact your applicable primary certification board for detailed requirements.
Eligibility for Initial Certification
Each cosponsoring board publishes its own eligibility criteria for physicians seeking admission to the HPM certification exam. You can visit your primary board for specific criteria with the links above. In general, candidates must
- be board certified and in good standing by one of the 10 cosponsoring primary boards
- hold a valid, unrestricted, and unchallenged license to practice medicine
- demonstrate clinical competence and moral and ethical behavior in a clinical setting, typically with a letter or affidavit from the fellowship program director
- have satisfactorily completed a 12-month fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine with an ACGME-accredited HPM fellowship program.
The Hospice and Palliative Medicine Certification Examination is a comprehensive, 1-day, computer-based examination of multiple-choice questions in the single-best-answer format with an absolute standard for passing. The content blueprint includes the content areas covered, their relative percentages, and the approximate number of questions for each content area to be included on a typical examination. The examination is administered to candidates from all boards at the same time through Pearson VUE Testing Centers.
The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) is responsible for administering the examination on behalf of all 10 cosponsoring boards. Please visit your primary board for registration information. You can learn more about taking the exam and upcoming initial certification test dates and Maintenance of Certification test dates from ABIM and your primary board.
How to Apply
Candidates register for the certification exam through the primary board by which they are certified. Each board is responsible for developing its own application materials.
How to Prepare
AAHPM has developed the following list of suggested resources and steps to help you prepare for the exam.
- Become familiar with the Exam Content and Blueprint created by either ABIM or AOA.
- Review textbooks such as the UNIPAC self-study program. While the UNIPACs are not sufficient by themselves to serve as a comprehensive review for the exam, they are an excellent resource.
- Attend a review course, such as AAHPM's Intensive Board Review Course recordings. Additional review courses for the HPM exam are offered by a number of institutions.
- Take a practice test, such as HPM PASS, a 150-item practice test designed to simulate an online testing experience. Supplement your knowledge in pediatrics, prognostication, and psychiatry and cognition, and hospice regulatory, with HPM FAST modules, each consisting of 25 practice test questions. Continue to keep abreast of the current evidence in the field by attending the Annual Assembly, listening to recordings from past assemblies, and reading up on new research and literature in the field with the following resources:
- PC-FACS (Fast Article Critical Summaries for Clinicians in Palliative Care)
- Fast Facts and Concepts
- JAMA Palliative Care Review Series
- Palliative Care JournalClub
- Take the ABIM sample tutorial. ABIM has provided a sample online tutorial so candidates may familiarize themselves with the look and feel of the computerized testing process.
- Stay current with the rules and logistics for taking the examination. Read carefully everything that you receive from your primary board concerning the instructions for registering for the exam.