Certification for Hospice and Palliative Medicine Specialists
Certification is widely considered the gold standard of expertise in medicine because of its unique physician-directed approach for assessing qualifications. While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific. Board certification demonstrates a physician's exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice. Although certification is sought and earned by physicians on a voluntary basis, it is recognized by government, healthcare systems, insurers, and patients themselves as an essential tool to judge that a physician has the knowledge, experience, and skills for providing quality health care within a given specialty or subspecialty.
AAHPM has supported certification by its members since 1996 with the creation of the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (ABHPM), an independent organization charged with certifying physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine. From the establishment of ABHPM until the field received formal recognition as a medical subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 2006 and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in 2007, more than 2,800 physicians obtained certification from ABHPM.
Today, physicians specializing in hospice and palliative medicine have several certifications available to them beyond their primary board certification. Since 2008, member boards of ABMS and AOA have certified physicians in the specialty-level practice of hospice and palliative medicine.
In 2012, after 3 years of exploration, AAHPM recommended the creation of the Hospice Medical Director Certification Board (HMDCB) to administer a certification that is complimentary to ABMS and AOA certification but specific to the practice of hospice medicine. The HMDCB examination assesses additional expertise in the unique competencies to perform the role of a hospice medical director, such as regulatory, administrative, legal, ethical competencies, and clinical skills appropriate for hospice patients.
AAHPM continues to support all physicians seeking certification through ABMS, AOA, and HMDCB with a number of educational opportunities and resources for both ABMS and AOA as well as HMDCB certification and with our support for fellowships in hospice and palliative medicine.