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Advertisement of Board Certification

In medicine and in lay language, the term “board-certified” is widely understood to mean a doctor who possesses exceptional expertise in a particular area.

To protect the public, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) has taken steps to standardize what “board certified” means under TMB advertising rules. In October 2010 the TMB amended its Physician Advertising rules.

According to the new rules, a physician may use the term "board certified" in any advertising for his or her practice if:

  1. the specialty board that conferred the certification and the certifying organization is:
    1. a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS),
    2. a member board of the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS), or
    3. is the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery;
  2. a physician holds a certification that was granted prior to September 1, 2010, and whose certifying board was approved by the medical board for advertising purposes prior to September 1, 2010, or
  3. the TMB determines that the physician-based certifying organization that conferred the certification has certification requirements that are substantially equivalent to the requirements of the ABMS or the BOS existing at the time of application to the medical board.

To qualify under Option 3, above, physicians must submit an application to a committee of the TMB and demonstrate that:

(1) the organization requires all physicians who are seeking certification to successfully pass a written or an oral examination or both, which tests the applicant's knowledge and skills in the specialty or subspecialty area of medicine. All or part of the examination may be delegated to a testing organization. All examinations require a psychometric evaluation for validation;

(2) the organization has written proof of a determination by the Internal Revenue Service that the certifying board is tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code pursuant to Section 501(c);

(3) the organization has a permanent headquarters and staff;

(4) the organization has at least 100 duly licensed members, fellows, diplomates, or certificate holders from at least one-third of the states;

(5) the organization requires all physicians who are seeking certification to have successfully completed postgraduate training that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association and that provides substantial and identifiable supervised training of comprehensive scope in the specialty or subspecialty certified and the organization utilizes appropriate peer review;

(6) the organization provides an online resource for the consumer to verify the board certification of its members; and

(7) the organization has the ability to provide a full explanation of its certification process and membership upon request by the Texas Medical Board.

See the Board Rules to read the full text of Board Rule 164.4.