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American Board-Certified Physicians: Requirements for Full Licensure

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The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)1 was established in 1933 and its board certification process requires an ongoing independent evaluation to ensure clinical competence and continuing professional development. Additionally, its process ensures the board-certified physician meets the standard of practice established by their peers.

Physicians holding certification with one of the Member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties may qualify for a Full licence.


This policy describes the minimum requirements to obtain a Full licence for American Board-certified physicians in specialties and subspecialties.


This policy applies to physicians who currently hold certification in their respective specialty and/or subspecialty with one of the Member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.


Eligibility Criteria

1. Credentials

Candidates must have all of the following credentials:

Medical DegreeApplicants must have a recognized medical degree from a school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools2
Postgraduate TrainingApplicants must have completed their postgraduate training in the United States of America (USA)*.

*Applicants holding American Board certification who did not complete their postgraduate training in the USA may be eligible for a Full licence at the discretion of the Registrar.
LMCC or acceptable alternativeApplicants must be a Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)3 or have one of the College’s acceptable alternatives to the LMCC4
CertificationApplicants must have current certification with any of the Member Boards of the American Board for Medical Specialties (ABMS)

2. Requirements of Licensure

  1. Letter of Offer or Confirmation of Privileges

    Physicians who meet the above eligibility criteria must provide the College with a letter of offer OR confirmation of privileges with Nova Scotia Health or the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia before their licence will be issued.
  2. Continuing Professional Development

    The College will accept annual confirmation of a physician’s certification status with the respective American Board as proof of satisfactory participation in a continuing professional development program.

    If the physician does not maintain their certification status with the relevant American Board, the physician is required to adhere to the College policy for Continuing Professional Development: Requirements5.
  1. Scope of Practice

    As with all physicians, the physician must practise within the scope for which they have the current knowledge, training, skills and recent practice experience.

    The physician must meet the College’s currency of practice experience requirements6 for practice.


  1. American Board of Medical Specialties
  2. World Directory of Medical Schools
  3. Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada
  4. Acceptable Alternatives to the LMCC
  5. Continuing Professional Development: Requirements
  6. Currency of Practice Experience
Applicable Legislation: Section 5 of the Medical Act
Sections 5 and 19(1-3) of the Medical Practitioners Regulations
Approved by: Registration Policy Committee & Council
Approval Date(s):February 22, 2024 & March 22, 2024
Review Date:February 2027