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Hospice and Palliative Medicine Certification

Eligibility Criteria for Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), in collaboration with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR), the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), the American Board of Radiology (ABR), and the American Board of Surgery (ABS), offers a certificate in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. This document provides the requirements of the ABP. (Note: A candidate who has a primary certificate from one of the other boards should contact that board for its eligibility criteria.) Examination registration dates may differ for each board.


Certification by the ABP

A candidate for hospice and palliative medicine certification must have achieved initial certification in general pediatrics or in a subspecialty of pediatrics and continue to maintain certification in order to take a hospice and palliative medicine certifying examination. No exceptions to this policy will be granted. The requirements for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) can be found on the ABP website: All candidates are urged to ensure that the requirements for MOC will be met in sufficient time to allow acceptance to the subspecialty certifying examination. 


An applicant must hold a valid, unrestricted allopathic and/or osteopathic medical license in at least one jurisdiction in the United States, its territories, or Canada. If licenses are held in more than one jurisdiction, all licenses held by a physician should meet this requirement. Temporary or training licenses are not acceptable. The option to fulfill the licensure requirement using a non-US or non-Canadian license no longer exists. 


One year of fellowship training must be completed in a program accredited in hospice and palliative medicine by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the United States or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.  Physicians who began training in hospice and palliative medicine before July 1, 2010, in a nonaccredited training program must have completed a minimum of one year in a hospice and palliative medicine training program that is associated with a residency or fellowship program accredited by the ACGME or the RCPSC. The training must be consistent with requirements established by the ACGME or with the guidelines of the Palliative Medicine Review Committee (PMRC) of the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. The training must have been completed under the supervision of a director who is certified in hospice and palliative medicine or, lacking such certification, possesses appropriate educational qualifications. 

Absences from Training
No continuous absence of more than one year will be permitted. Due to the potential for significant changes in medicine over time, the Credentials Committee must review requests for previous credit when a fellow has interrupted fellowship for more than 12 months.

Combined absences/leaves in excess of one month during the year of training, whether for vacation, parental leave, illness, and so forth, must be made up. For information regarding parental, medical, caregiver leave, please visit the ABP Absences from Training Policy.

An applicant must satisfactorily complete all subspecialty training before the first day of the month in which the examination is administered. An applicant whose contracted training period does not expire before the first day of the month of the examination will not be eligible for that examination, even if all formal training has been completed earlier and the remaining time is used only for leave.

No credit will be given for subspecialty training during core general pediatrics residency or a chief residency.

A fellow engaging in part-time training must complete the required training on a part-time basis not to exceed two years.

Hospice and palliative medicine fellowship training that was credited toward the training requirements for admission to another ABP examination, such as the certifying examination in pediatric hematology-oncology, cannot be used to fulfill the training requirements for admission to the hospice and palliative medicine certifying examination.

Verification of Training

An applicant will be asked to list the program(s) where fellowship training occurred as well as the name(s) of the program director(s). The ABP will require the program director(s) to attest to the fellow’s competence. The role of the program director in the certification process is to verify completion of training and evaluate clinical competence including professionalism.

An applicant must have the verification of training on file at the ABP in order to be admitted to the subspecialty examination. If an applicant’s training is not verified or if the applicant receives an unsatisfactory evaluation in any of the competencies (with the exception of professionalism alone), the applicant will be required to complete an additional period of subspecialty fellowship training before reapplying. The director of the program where the additional training occurred must complete a separate verification. If the unsatisfactory evaluation is in professionalism only, the applicant will be required to complete an additional period of fellowship training or, at the program director’s recommendation and at the ABP’s discretion, a period of observation may be required in lieu of additional training. A plan for remediation must be submitted for review and approval by the ABP.

Appeals Process: Applicants who wish to appeal evaluations must proceed through institutional due process mechanisms. The ABP is not in a position to reexamine the facts and circumstances of an individual’s performance.

Time-Limited Eligibility for Initial Certification Examinations

Beginning with the examinations administered in 2014, the ABP will require that applicants have completed the training required for initial certification in the pediatric subspecialties within the previous seven years (eg, 2010 or later for examinations administered in 2017). If the required training was not successfully completed within the previous seven years, the applicant must complete an additional period of supervised practice in order to apply for certification. The subspecialty examinations are offered every other year. Therefore, please note that the pediatric subspecialty examination may not be offered in the year the acceptance expires. The full policy can be found on the ABP website:

Closure of Practice Pathway

The ABP has established a policy for a closure date for the practice pathway for all subspecialties in which a certificate is offered. The certifying examination in 2012 was the last examination for which an individual could apply for certification in hospice and palliative medicine using practice experience accrued by the deadline stated in the original eligibility criteria when the subspecialty was established. Please contact the ABP if additional information is needed.

It should be noted that these criteria and conditions are subject to change without notice. All applicants are advised to contact the ABP to ascertain whether the information they have is current. 

11/17, edited 1/25/21, edited 1/6/22