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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Board Certification for Doctors: What Does It Really Mean?

Mar 01, 2022 05:59PM ● By Yale Smith

When choosing a new physician, people consider various factors such as experience, specialization, location, or recommendations from friends or online testimonials. Another attribute to consider is if the chosen provider is board-certified.


Medical Doctors (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) are granted a medical license after completing medical school, an internship, and a residency in their chosen field as well as any extra educational requirements. Licensed doctors are legally required to obtain a valid state medical license to practice medicine in the US.


While being licensed is required, becoming board-certified is not mandatory to begin a career in medicine. Board certification is an added credential that demonstrates the doctor has achieved the highest level of expertise and competency in a specific area of specialty. Some physicians even obtain multiple certifications.


To be considered for board-certification within a specialty, the candidate must have a valid state medical license, clear all background checks and complete extensive specialty training which includes documenting patient cases in their area of specialization and a 3-to-12-year internship and residency training program.


Board Certification (ABAARM) is awarded to MDs and DOs who complete thorough written and oral exams and submit the required documents (case studies, diploma, license, etc.). Additionally, the physician will need to re-certify every 10 years.


Diplomate Certification (ABAAHP) is awarded to allied health practitioners (Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Pharmacy, etc.) who complete the written exam and submit the required documents (diploma, license, etc.). The oral exam is not required for allied health professionals.


Integrative Functional Medicine is an emerging field of medicine where individualized research on a patient leads to finding root causes of disease and seeks to understand the individual from a whole-body perspective. To be accepted into one of the two training programs in the US for Integrative Functional Medicine, medical doctors must be board-certified in another specialty such as Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Anesthesiology, Family Practice, etc. On an average it takes a doctor 2-5 years to complete the integrative functional medical training.


When choosing a provider, do your research and ask questions. Find out how many patients the doctor has treated for the illness or disease being addressed. Does the doctor stay current with research? For a difficult case, ask if the doctor networks by reaching out the national colleagues to gather more research information. These questions will help you make an informed decision.


Yale (Yoel) R. Smith, MD, is triple board-certified practicing Integrative and Functional Medicine at The Center for Anti-Aging Aesthetic and Rejuvenation Medicine (CAARM). CAARM is located at 7000 Spyglass Ct, Ste 300, Viera. For more information or to make an appointment, call 321-421-7111 or visit