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Improving Health Through Medical Physics

AAPM Statement regarding rejections of ABR examination applications

June 25th, 2010

The AAPM recognizes the American Board of Radiology (ABR) as an independent organization that certifies “its diplomates have acquired, demonstrated, and maintained a requisite standard of knowledge, skill, and understanding essential to the practice of … radiologic physics.” The AAPM further recognizes that the ABR, and the ABR alone, has the prerogative to set standards for eligibility of candidates to sit for the certification examination.

Recently, many applications for Part 1 of the ABR examination in radiological physics were rejected because of the absence of documentation of graduate medical physics courses on their application.  This course requirement is a relatively new requirement, having been posted on the ABR website as of April 30, 2009, and applicable to individuals applying beginning on July 1, 2009, for the 2010 examination. 

The AAPM has two concerns regarding the recent rejection of applications: (1) the information regarding the new course requirements was not widely disseminated among the medical physics community, and consequently, few applicants were aware of the new requirements, and (2) the rejection letters were released in early June 2010, not providing candidates with a timely opportunity to remediate any deficiencies before the 2010 examination date.

After discussion with ABR trustees, the AAPM makes the following recommendations:

  1. For individuals who are enrolled in or have graduated from a CAMPEP accredited graduate or residency program, such individuals should appeal the ABR decision to reject their applications, stating that they are enrolled in or have completed a CAMPEP accredited education program.
  2. For individuals who have completed three graduate courses in medical physics, such individuals should appeal the ABR decision to reject their applications, and provide documentation of the courses including a transcript.  If the course title appears ambiguous, it would be advisable to include a course description or even a course syllabus.
  3. Graduates of non-US universities may get some guidance from the following URL:
  4. For individuals who have completed the course work equivalent to the stated required courses, such individuals should appeal the ABR decision to reject their applications with detailed documentation to support the equivalency. Although audits are not allowed, the ABR has accepted situations in which applicants attend all classes in a course, do all the assignments, take and have graded all exams, and receive a grade for the course, although the grade is not formally registered with the sponsoring institution.
  5. Although applicants may not take Part 1 until these requirements are completed, once they have applied for Part 1, they are considered “in the pipeline,” so to speak, and the only time requirement they are facing is completion of Part 2 within the appropriate time period.
  6. Also note that that the ABR has stated the following: “In addition, the ABR will consider on a case-by-case basis candidates who have been working independently with more than five years of clinical experience that could serve as a substitute for the medical physics courses”

AAPM leadership urges individuals meeting the aforementioned qualifications who have received these rejection letters to appeal to the ABR immediately and provide documentation that they have completed the necessary requirements as outlined above or to develop a plan for remediation of the coursework.  Action would be greatly desirable; otherwise, the candidate may miss a deadline and have their application governed by the 2012 or 2014 deadlines.

Finally, AAPM has written to ABR requesting that a two week extension of the deadline to appeal be granted.

AAPM Executive Committee