Originally established by American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the Family Medicine Certification process is intended to create a framework for physicians to follow, to establish standards, and to maintain accountability in the field of medicine. The process encompasses initial certification as well as recertification under the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).

Continuing your education is vital to building your knowledge, maintaining your professional standing, and providing the best possible care for your patients.

ABFM Initial Certification: Requirements

In order to become board certified for the first time, within three calendar years of finishing your residency, you must take and pass the initial ABFM certification exam. Use the table below to determine review the requirements for your initial ABFM certification:

  • Earn at least 50 Family Medicine Certification points (acquired by completion of activities included below):
    • Minimum of 1 Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) activity (10 points each)
    • Minimum of 1 Performance Improvement (PI) activity with patient population data (20 points each)
    • Additional approved Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA), Clinical Self-Assessment (CSA, 5 points each), or Performance Improvement (PI) activities to reach a minimum of 50 points
  • Complete 150 credits of approved CME (minimum of 50% Division I), earned within the three (3) years before you take the Family Medicine Certification Examination
  • Complete the ABFM Family Medicine Certification Examination successfully.
    • Includes the submission of your Entry Process Fee and your application and accompanying full examination fee.
  • Demonstrate continuous compliance with ABFM Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal conduct
    • Includes securing an active, valid, full, and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States or Canada

The Family Medicine Board Certification Process: 4 Components

Family medicine board certification involves not only an exam every 7 or 10 years (depending on your certification cycle), but regularly completing a defined set of activities. The ABFM developed the Family Medicine Certification Process to help physicians become lifelong learners and to practice medicine at the highest level. The ABFM defines four key elements that need to be completed to maintain certification:


Self-Assessment and Lifelong Learning

  • You must complete the required number of Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) activities during the Certification stage
  • You must complete the required number of Division I and Division II Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits

Cognitive Expertise

  • You must complete and pass the Family Medicine Certification examination during the required time period

Performance in Practice

  • You must complete the required number of Performance Improvement (PI) activities during the Certification stage

In the Family Medicine Certification process, you must successfully complete a series of activities in separate 3-year windows, or “stages,” in accordance with set deadlines, in order to maintain your certification.

Maintaining Your Family Medicine Board Certification: We Can Help

As a family physician, your days are full: caring for patients, building your practice, living your life. Developed by the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM Knowledge+ Family Medicine Board Review’s adaptive learning program is geared to you: It adapts to your strengths and weaknesses, is relevant to your practice of family medicine, and fits seamlessly into your schedule. The question bank, which reflects the ABFM blueprint, can prepare you for the Family Medicine Certification exam and enable you to earn your required AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and AAFP Prescribed credits. Most important, this easy-to-use program is a solution for lifelong learning that will help you as you strive to provide the optimal care for your patients.

Learn more about our features and benefits.

Accreditation Statement

The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Medical Association has an agreement of mutual recognition of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits with the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), the accreditation body for European countries. Physicians interested in converting AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to UEMS-European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education CME credits (ECMECs) should contact the UEMS at mutualrecognition@uems.eu.

AMA Credit Designation Statement

The Massachusetts Medical Society designates each enduring material for the number of AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ listed below. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

NEJM Knowledge+ Family Medicine Board Review: 349 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

AAFP Prescribed Credit

The AAFP has reviewed NEJM Knowledge+ Family Medicine Board Review and deemed it acceptable for up to 349.00 Enduring Materials, Self-Study AAFP Prescribed credits. Term of Approval is from 02/01/2024 to 1/31/2025. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CMEAAPA CME Credit (NEJM Knowledge+ Family Medicine Board Review)

This activity has been reviewed by the AAPA Review Panel and is compliant with AAPA CME Criteria. This activity is designated for 20 AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credits. PAs should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation. Approval is valid from 5/1/2023 to 4/30/2024. AAPA reference number: CME-209251.

For NCCPA certification maintenance ONLY: NCCPA will now apply an additional 50 percent weighting when these self-assessment credits are logged for NCCPA certification maintenance purposes. PAs should log up to a maximum of 20 AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credits, as the additional weighting will be automatically applied by NCCPA.