About the CE

Hospice & Palliative Medicine Certifying Exam

  • The ABS, along with several other ABMS member boards, offers a subspecialty certificate in hospice and palliative medicine (HPM). The HPM Certifying Examination is offered every even-numbered year. It is required to achieve board certification in HPM. While surgeons will apply through the ABS, the exam will be administered through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
  • The exam developed by the ABIM is a one-day exam approximately 8 hours long given through Pearson VUE testing services. An examination blueprint (pdf) (content outline) is available from the ABIM website.

General Requirements

To be eligible to apply for this exam, applicants must:

  • Accredited Program: Have satisfactorily completed a one-year training program in hospice and palliative medicine accredited by the ACGME. A practice pathway toward HPM certification is no longer offered.
  • Training Time: Have acquired no fewer than 48 weeks of full-time clinical activity in the training year. See Leave Policy for further details.
  • Certification/Continuous Certification: Be currently certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery and in compliance with the ABS Continuous Certification Program. The ABS will also accept current diplomates of other ABMS surgical boards, provided their primary certifying board supports their application.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively engaged in the practice of hospice and palliative medicine.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Examination While in Residency

  • Individuals who complete an ACGME-accredited HPM fellowship after completing 3 progressive years of ACGME-accredited residency may apply for HPM certification and take the exam while still in residency. A full and unrestricted medical license is not required at the time of application.
  • The HPM certificate will not be awarded, however, until primary certification is achieved. Applicants must have a guaranteed categorical residency position in an ACGME-accredited residency program available to them upon completion of HPM training.

Application Process

  • Individuals who meet these requirements may apply in even-numbered years for certification through the online application process, which is posted in early spring (see How to Apply). After your application is approved, you will be sent instructions on how to register for this year's exam.
  • Once you complete registration and submit the examination fee, it will take up to five business days to process. Following processing, an Exam Admission Card/Authorization Letter with instructions on how to schedule your exam center directly with Pearson VUE will then be posted on your Exam Records and Results page.

Exam Opportunities

  • Once your application is approved, you will be granted a maximum of 3 opportunities in 5 years to pass the exam. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute.
  • During the five-year period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.
  • Individuals who exhaust their five-year admissibility period should contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Continuous Certification

  • If successful on the exam, you will be deemed certified in hospice and palliative medicine and will receive your official certificate within 6 months. You must thereafter participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain your certificate. The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward ongoing certification requirements for passing the HPM Certifying Exam; the waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository.
  • Surgeons who achieve ABS certification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.

For specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.