A total of 651 physicians have recently passed The American Board of Addiction Medicine’s (ABAM) most recent addiction medicine certification examination. The newly-certified addiction medicine specialists represent the largest group of doctors to ever be certified in a single year. This year’s new additions bring the total number of physicians certified by ABAM to 3,363, since taking over the certification process from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) back in 2009.
Patrick G. O’Connor, MD, MPH, FACP, is excited about the number of physicians who completed ABAM’s rigorous examination and comprehensive clinical training program. He says that ABAM is helping make evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment more readily available to those who need it.
“The addiction medicine field is growing by leaps and bounds, and we are gratified to see that so many physicians have chosen to become ABAM certified in order to better prevent and treat the nation’s number one public health problem,” O’Connor said.
The new class of ABAM diplomates (physicians certified by ABAM) represents close to 40 specialties and subspecialties, and they are located across 48 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The average age of new diplomates has lowered with each exam cycle since 2010, and they hail from a broad range of healthcare settings, including government agencies, corrections, universities, private practices and hospitals.
Courses in addiction medicine are few and far between in medical school. Currently, there are no addiction medicine fellowships among the nearly 9,000 residency and fellowship programs in the nation’s hospitals that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
ABAM’s goal is to have a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) certify physicians in addiction medicine. This process is now underway and, once complete, the Foundation will apply to the ACGME to accredit its fellowship programs.
In many cases, a highly trained addiction specialist as a primary care physician can be the first encounter of some type of intervention. Brief screening and intervention procedures from doctors are one thing, but these additional certifications help to deal with the situation more effectively, in most cases.