Family Medicine Certification

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) certification process provides an avenue for family physicians to demonstrate their current competency, commitment to high quality care, and professionalism to their patients, the public, and colleagues. Patients highly value knowing their physician is board-certified. 

Family Medicine Certification (FMC) is a credential beyond state licensure. It is a continuous voluntary process emphasizing the importance of ongoing participation in activities that evaluate  professionalism, self-assessment and lifelong learning, cognitive expertise, and performance improvement, with a goal of maintaining clinical excellence that benefits both the physician and their patients.

Continuous Certification Process

  • To maintain certification, you will need to complete all requirements of the Continuous Certification Process.
  • This process is divided into continuous 3-year stages, with an examination every 10 years.
  • Within each stage, there are minimum requirements for Knowledge Self-Assessment and Performance Improvement activities, as well as total points and CME credits.
  • Every 10 years, you may choose to either take the one-day examination or participate in the alternative Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA) method for demonstrating cognitive expertise.
  • Additionally, you must always remain in compliance with ABFM Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal Conduct.

ABFM recommends that you participate in at least one certification activity per year to say current with your certification. However, because that’s not always possible, there is flexibility built into the process and the required activities may be completed at any time during each three-year stage.

Knowledge Self Assessments

To help family physician members of IAFP earn ABFM certification points, we host Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) study groups throughout the year. KSAs are focused on evaluating and enhancing your knowledge base in a particular topic area common to family medicine.

KSA Topics Available |    FAQs

For more questions about KSAs, please contact Katie Cox at 

Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA)

The Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA) is the alternative to the one-day examination requirement for Family Medicine Certification. Launched in December 2018 as a pilot to study the feasibility and validity of this approach, FMCLA quickly earned an overwhelmingly positive reputation as the preferred option for most Diplomates and was approved for permanent implementation in April of 2021.

A longitudinal approach like FMCLA promotes enduring learning and retention. This has been endorsed by those who participated, with the predominant feedback being that physicians are learning as they go. Participants have also reported that FMCLA has reduced their stress, eliminated travel, and minimized preparation time as compared to the one-day examination. To date, over 70% of eligible physicians have chosen the FMCLA option, which becomes available for current Diplomates to select in the year prior to when their next examination is due.

As a participating physician, you would complete 25 quarterly questions over three to four years until you complete 300 questions. Clinical references can be used during the exam and you have five minutes to complete each question. Immediate feedback is provided, and you choose the time and location that’s convenient for you. You’ll remain certified throughout your participation as long as you meet other ABFM requirements. Download the FMCLA Handout for a quick summary.