I’ve neglected my blog lately, because I’ve been doing extra reading, preparing for my American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) re-certification exam. I took the exam yesterday, so now I’ll have more time.

I took (and passed) this test for the first time in 2004. Doctors who wish to remain certified in Addiction Medicine need to take the test (and pass it) every ten years. We also have to demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning by doing a certain number of continuing education hours each year, and a few other things.

This exam used to be administered by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). The first time I took the exam in 2004, ASAM sponsored the testing. But in order to get recognition from the American Board of Medical Specialties, a separate entity had to be created, and ABAM was born in 2007. ABAM’s purpose is to establish standards for physician education in the field, to assess competency of the physicians it certifies, and to track life-long learning of these physicians.

I didn’t mind studying for the exam, because I find the material to be so interesting. Our main textbook is “Principles of Addiction Medicine,” and at over 1700 pages, it’s a long read. There’s also a great review course, sponsored once every other year by ASAM, called “ASAM’s Review Couse of Addiction Medicine.” I couldn’t go to the meeting in Orlando, Florida, but I listened to the whole thing on ASAM’s e-learning site. On that, I could listen to each of the over 20 hours of information over and over again if I desired. The lecturers were fantastic, and among the top in the field. Even though it’s supposed to be a review I always learn new things.

It was a fair exam. I won’t know if I passed until February of 2015, but I’m feeling confident.

If you want to know if your physician has been trained in Addiction Medicine, ask her if she is a member of ASAM, or is certified by ABAM. Doctors don’t have to be certified to be good, but if you want to know for sure that your doctor is well-educated, ask about that certification, or the equivalent in the psychiatric field, the American Association of Addiction Psychiatry.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Jana-Well stated and I agree, my first was 2002 and I got recertified in 2012. Maintenance of Certification isn’t to cumbersome either, and good update for current knoweldge in our field. Diplomate status with ABAM is the standard in our field, I feel.
    Happy Holidays!


  2. Great post. I agree I always learn so much too during the review. I first certified in 2004, and just took the exam this past weekend again for re-cert. The review courses are really excellent. The test itself focused too much on esoterica this time compared to last time but I imagine that writing this sort of exam is difficult.

    I completely agree with Rich…ABAM is the standard and its our responsibility to uphold that standard. I think you do that very well Jana and I always enjoy your blog.


  3. Posted by Ed Pane on November 17, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Congratulations, Doc


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