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Understanding Medical Specialties
In 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) was formed to protect the public trust in physician specialists by standardizing test...

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Understanding Medical Specialties

In 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) was formed to protect the public trust in physician specialists by standardizing testing and training.

The practice of medicine involves so much more than going to medical school. After completion of an undergraduate college education and receiving a Bachelor’s degree, the aspiring doctor enters medical school. Standard U.S. medical education is four years at a university. The first two years are classroom based. The second two years are usually spent in rotations in a variety of clinical settings where the medical student gains direct experience in supervised medical care.

Upon successful graduation from an accredited medical school, the aspiring doctor is eligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Once this examination is successfully passed, the doctor is legally licensed to practice medicine. For the majority of doctors, however, training does not end there. The doctor then enters into a residency-training program in one of 24 specialty areas. The residency-training programs are regulated by the Board of each specialty, and all 24 boards fall under the umbrella of the aforementioned ABMS. The 24-member boards, with their respective specialties and subspecialties, are listed below. Click on the links of each specialty type to learn more about the specialist, the training requirements, and the problems for which they provide expert care.

Associated Diseases

  • American Board of Allergy and Immunology
    • Allergy and Immunology
  • American Board of Anesthesiology
    • Anesthesiology
      • Critical Care Medicine
      • Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine
      • Pain Medicine
  • American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery
    • Colon and Rectal Surgery
  • American Board of Dermatology (ABMS Founding Member)
    • Dermatology
      • Dermatopathology
      • Pediatric derrmatology
  • American Board of Emergency Medicine
    • Emergency Medicine
      • Medical Toxicology
      • Sports Medicine
      • Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine
      • Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
      • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • American Board of Family Medicine
    • Family Medicine
      • Adolescent Medicine
      • Geriatric Medicine
      • Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine
      • Sleep Medicine
      • Sports Medicine
  • American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Internal Medicine
      • Adolescent Medicine
      • Gastroenterology
        • Transplant Hepatologist
      • Nephrology
      • Cardiovascular Medicine (cardiology)
      • Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
      • Critical Care Medicine
      • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
      • Geriatric Medicine
      • Hematology
      • Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine
      • Infectious Disease
      • Medical Oncology
      • Interventional Cardiology
      • Rheumatology
      • Pulmonary Medicine
      • Sleep Medicine
      • Sports Medicine
  • American Board of Medical Genetics
    • Clinical Molecular Genetics
    • Clinical Biochemical Genetics
    • Clinical Genetics
    • Clinical Cytogenetics
      • The above are four areas of certification within Medical Genetics
      • Below are two subspecialties of Medical Genetics
        • Molecular genetic pathology
        • Medical biochemical genetics
  • American Board of Neurological Surgery
    • Neurological Surgery (neurosurgery)
  • American Board of Nuclear Medicine
    • Nuclear Medicine
  • American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABMS Founding Member)
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology
      • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
      • Critical care medicine
      • Gynecological oncology
      • Maternal and Fetal Medicine
      • Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility
  • American Board of Ophthalmology (ABMS Founding Member)
    • Ophthalmology
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
    • Orthopedic Surgery
      • Orthopedic Sports Medicine
      • Surgery of the Hand
  • American Board of Otolaryngology (ABMS Founding Member)
    • Otolaryngology (ENT)
      • Neurotology
      • Pediatric otolaryngology
      • Plastic Surgery within the Head and Neck
      • Sleep Medicine
  • American Board of Pathology
    • Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology
    • Pathology – Anatomic
    • Pathology – Clinical
      • The above three are disciplines within pathology
      • Those below are subspecialties within these discipline
        • Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine
        • Chemical Pathology
        • Cytopathology
        • Dermatopathology
        • Forensic Pathology
        • Hematology
        • Medical Microbiology
        • Molecular Genetic Pathology
        • Neuropathology
        • Pediatric Pathology
  • American Board of Pediatrics
    • Pediatrics
      • Adolescent Medicine
      • Child Abuse Pediatrics
      • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
      • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
      • Medical Toxicology
      • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
      • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
      • Pediatric Cardiology
      • Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
      • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
      • Pediatric Endocrinology
      • Pediatric Gastroenterology
      • Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
      • Pediatric Infectious Diseases
      • Pediatric Nephrology
      • Pediatric Pulmonology
      • Pediatric Rheumatology
      • Pediatric Transplant Hepatology
      • Sleep Medicine
      • Sports Medicine
  • American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery
    • Plastic Surgery
      • Plastic Surgery Within the Head and Neck
      • Surgery of the Hand
  • American Board of Preventive Medicine
    • Aerospace Medicine
    • Occupational Medicine
    • Public Health and General Preventive Medicine
      • Medical Toxicology
      • Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
    • Neurology
    • Neurology/Child neurology
    • Psychiatry
      • Below are the subspecialties within these specialties
        • Clinical Neurophysiology
        • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
        • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
        • Neuromuscular Medicine
        • Pain Medicine
        • Sleep Medicine
        • Vascular Neurology
  • American Board of Radiology
    • Diagnostic Radiology
    • Radiation Oncology
    • Radiologic Physics
      • The above are three disciplines within Radiology
      • Below are subspecialties within these disciplines
        • Diagnostic Radiological Physics
        • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
        • Medical Nuclear Physics
        • Neuroradiology
        • Nuclear Radiology
        • Pediatric Radiology
        • Therapeutic Radiological Physics
        • Vascular and Interventional Radiology
  • American Board of Surgery
    • Surgery
      • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
      • Pediatric Surgery
      • Surgery of the Hand
      • Surgical Critical Care
    • Vascular Surgery
  • American Board of Thoracic Surgery
    • Thoracic Surgery
  • American Board of Urology
    • Urology
      • Pediatric Urology


American Board of Medical Specialties 2006-2008.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Last Updated: February 20, 2008
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
Licensed from
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