What does it mean to be Board Certified?

Certification by the American Board of Dermatology affirms that a dermatologist has met high standards – set by their peers -- of knowledge, experience, and lifelong learning that are essential for providing all patients with excellent care for skin, hair, and nails.

Being “certified” is not the same as being “licensed.” Medical licensure sets the minimum competence requirements to diagnose and treat patients and is not specialty specific. All physicians in the United States must be licensed to practice medicine by licensing boards in each state they see patients.

Certification is specific to specialties and subspecialties and attests to an individual’s advanced knowledge, training, and skills in a particular area of medicine. While a license is required to practice medicine, board certification is a voluntary process. 

ABD Certified Dermatologists have:

  • Completed a one-year accredited internship program and three or more years of an accredited residency program in dermatology.
  • Passed exams demonstrating their dermatology knowledge and their ability to apply that knowledge to treat patients.
  • Made a commitment to stay current on the latest dermatology advances by participating in continuing certification activities and assessments throughout their careers.*

Once they have earned ABD board certification, dermatologists continue a program of life-long learning through the ABD that includes keeping up to date on breakthroughs in dermatology, learning about best practices in their field, and taking periodic assessments to assure their patients, their colleagues, and themselves that they continue to meet high standards of knowledge and expertise.

The American Board of Dermatology is one of 24 specialty medical boards that comprise the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Certification by these boards assures patients and healthcare organizations that the specialists they choose are skilled and knowledgeable, maintain their specialty expertise, and meet standards established by their peers.

To learn more about certification, visit ABMS website.  


*The Continuing Certification Program (CCP), formerly known as Maintenance of Certification (MOC) began at the ABD in 1991. Dermatologists certified before that time were “grandfathered in” and are not required to participate in continuing certification activities. However, they are encouraged to participate or find other ways to keep their knowledge and skills current.