Training Requirements for the ABNM Certifying Examination

Approved February 17,2015

In order to be eligible to take the ABNM certification examination, a physician must have the education and training, as described below.  Specific instructions and forms may be found in the on-line application available during the exam registration period after login.

Residency Training in the United States

1. One year of preparatory clinical training

Before starting Nuclear Medicine training, physicians must satisfactorily complete one year of clinical training that includes at least nine months in any specialty that provides direct patient care. Training must be obtained in a program accredited by:

Physicians who were trained in other programs may be accepted into Nuclear Medicine residency programs if they are an “exceptionally qualified applicant,” as defined in the ACGME Common Program Requirements, effective July 1, 2016. The designation of an “exceptionally qualified applicant” is made by the Nuclear Medicine Program Director, Training Program Selection Committee, and Graduate Medical Education Committee. ABMM will accept this designation for physicians beginning their training after June 30, 2016.

2A.  Completion of Nuclear Medicine training in an ACGME approved program

  • Physicians who are certified or eligible to be certified by the American Board of Radiology, must satisfactorily complete one additional year of ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine training for a total of 16 months of Nuclear Medicine training (see “2B. Completion of Diagnostic Radiology Training in an ACGME approved program” for equivalent requirements that may be substituted).
  • Physicians who are certified or eligible to be certified by another member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, must complete two years of Nuclear Medicine training (see also “Combined Nuclear Medicine and Internal Medicine Training” for special requirements).
  • Physicians who are not certified or eligible to be certified by another member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, must complete three years of Nuclear Medicine training.
  • Combined Nuclear Medicine and Internal Medicine Training. To be eligible for dual certification, a resident must have American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and ABNM approval of the proposed training program before beginning the combined program. The combined program consists of a total of 4 years of training in an accredited internal medicine and an accredited nuclear medicine training program and leads to admissibility to certification in both specialties. To meet eligibility for dual certification, the resident must satisfactorily complete 48 months of combined training that is verified by the Program Directors of both training programs. It is strongly recommended that combined training occur in the same institution. Residents will be eligible for admission to the written certifying examination in Internal Medicine after successfully completing the third resident year of training and for the Nuclear Medicine examination after the fourth resident year. All training must be in ACGME, RCPSP or PCPQ accredited programs and approved by the Program Director of each program. More details about this combined training program can be found at (www.abim.org/certification/policies/combinedim/comnuc.aspx).

Leave for any reason, such as vacation, illness, or family leave, may be taken as permitted by the local institution’s graduate medical education office or equivalent, and/or applicable rules of the ACGME. In the absence of such rules, up to 6 weeks (30 working days) of leave is permitted per academic year. When Nuclear Medicine training is longer than one year, the average length of leave should not exceed 6 weeks per academic year. If leave exceeds these limits, as permitted by State or Federal regulations, the program director must have a plan approved by the ABNM to compensate for the lost educational time.

The Nuclear Medicine Program Director must verify that the physician has successfully completed the training and experience requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as described in parts 10 CFR 35.190, 10 CFR 35.290 and 10 CFR 35.390, and complete an “Evaluation of Clinical Competence Form.” A physician will not be eligible for ABNM certification without a Program Director’s verification of training and clinical competence.

Physicians with one year of Nuclear Medicine training preceding Diagnostic Radiology training, or with concurrent Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Radiology training, are eligible to take the ABNM certification exam as soon as they become eligible to take the ABR certification exam (normally after four years of Diagnostic Radiology training, but sometimes after three year of Diagnostic Radiology training, if eligibility for the ABR certification exam is documented).

The ABNM certification examination must be taken within 7 years after completing residency training.  If Diagnostic Radiology residency training follows Nuclear Medicine training, the ABMM examination must be taken no more than 7 years after completing Diagnostic Radiology residency training.

2B. Completion of Diagnostic Radiology Training in an ACGME approved program

Physicians who successfully complete 4 years of Diagnostic Radiology training may be eligible to take the ABNM certification examination with additional training in an institution that has an ACGME approved Nuclear Medicine residency or Nuclear Radiology subspecialty training program:

  • One additional year of ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine residency training, or
  • One additional year of ACGME accredited Nuclear Radiology training, provided all the ACGME Nuclear Medicine residency program requirements in effect that year are met during training, or
  • One additional year of non accredited Nuclear Medicine training or non accredited Nuclear Radiology training (e.g. fellowship training), provided the training is obtained in an institution with an ACGME accredited program, and all the ACGME Nuclear Medicine residency program requirements in effect that year are met during training. The additional year of training may be combined with other specialty training or research time, as long as the total training in Nuclear Medicine or Nuclear Radiology equals 12 months.

One additional year may include up to 6 weeks (30 working days) of leave of absence for any reason, and up to 4 weeks (20 working days) of elective time in any field or any location approved by the Program Director.

  • 310 days of Nuclear Medicine training during 4 years of Diagnostic Radiology residency training. The 310 days of training may include up to 20 days of elective time in any field (clinical or research) or any location approved by the Diagnostic Radiology Program Director.
    • 310 days is equivalent to 16 rotations of 4 weeks including 10 days (2 weeks) of leave, or
    • 17 rotations of 4 weeks including 30 days (6 weeks) of leave.

The Nuclear Medicine, or Nuclear Radiology, Program Director must verify that the physician has successfully completed the training and experience requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as described in parts 10 CFR 35.190, 10 CFR 35.290 and 10 CFR 35.390, and complete an “Evaluation of Clinical Competence Form.” A physician will not be eligible for ABNM certification without a Program Director’s verification of training and clinical competence.

Physicians with one year of Nuclear Medicine training preceding Diagnostic Radiology training, or with concurrent Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Radiology training, are eligible to take the ABNM certification exam as soon as they become eligible to take the ABR certification exam (normally after four years of Diagnostic Radiology training, but sometimes after three year of Diagnostic Radiology training, if eligibility for the ABR certification exam is documented).

The ABNM certification examination must be taken within 7 years after completing residency training. If Diagnostic Radiology residency training follows Nuclear Medicine training, the ABMM examination must be taken no more than 7 years after completing Diagnostic Radiology residency or subsequent fellowship training.

3. Licensure

A physician must pass USMLE Step 3 to be eligible for the certification exam. The physician must have a valid unrestricted license to practice medicine in at least one state or other jurisdiction to apply for the certification exam. If a physician is licensed in more than one such jurisdiction, each license must be valid and unrestricted.

Physicians who are still in training or who will practice medicine at a teaching institution at the time of the exam may take the exam with an educational or institutional license.

Residency Training in Canada

Requirements to be certified by ABNM for graduates of Nuclear Medicine training programs in Canada are equivalent to the requirements for graduates in the United States.

1. Physicians must be graduates of a medical school approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, or the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools.

2. Physicians must pass the Medical College of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I and Part II to be eligible for the ABNM certification exam.

3. Physicians must have successfully completed a Nuclear Medicine training program approved by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). Nuclear medicine residents in Canada enrolled in a 5-year training program (one year of preparatory clinical training, three years of nuclear medicine training, plus 12 months of elective time) may apply for the exam during their fourth year of training, and take the examination in October during their final year of training.

Physicians must be eligible for a medical license issued by one of the twelve provincial or territorial licensing authorities.  Physicians still in training may take the exam with an educational or institutional license.

Residency Training in Countries other than the US and Canada

Physicians who receive part or all of their residency training in countries other than the US and Canada must ask the ABNM to accept their foreign training as being equivalent to training required in the United States.  This training includes the preparatory clinical year, as well as prior training in Nuclear Medicine or Diagnostic Radiology.

1. One year of preparatory clinical training

Physicians must satisfactorily complete one year of clinical training that includes at least nine months in any specialty that provides direct patient care. A director of an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine Residency program must support the request that the ABNM accept prior training as being equivalent to the preparatory clinical year that is required prior to starting a Nuclear Medicine residency.

Physicians who were trained in other programs may be accepted into Nuclear Medicine residency programs if they are an “exceptionally qualified applicant,” as defined in the ACGME Common Program Requirements, effective July 1, 2016. The designation of an “exceptionally qualified applicant” is made by the Nuclear Medicine Program Director, Training Program Selection Committee, and Graduate Medical Education Committee. ABMM will accept this designation for physicians beginning their training after June 30, 2016.

2. Nuclear Medicine residency training

The ABNM may give a maximum of two years of credit for Nuclear Medicine training that is obtained in other countries provided that this training is judged to be equivalent to training in the United States or Canada, however, the required amount of Nuclear Medicine training in an accredited US or Canada Nuclear Medicine training program may not be less than one year.

3. Diagnostic Radiology residency training

The ABNM may give credit for Diagnostic Radiology training that is obtained in other countries provided that this training is judged to be equivalent to training in the United States or Canada.

Additional Diagnostic Radiology experience obtained in the United States or Canada in an accredited or non accredited Diagnostic Radiology program (e.g. fellowship training) may also be considered, provided the training is obtained in an institution with an ACGME accredited Diagnostic Radiology program.

A maximum credit of 6 months may be given for training in Computerized Tomography (CT), and a maximum credit of 6 months may be given for training in other Diagnostic Radiology subspecialty areas, including Nuclear Medicine. The required amount of Nuclear Medicine training in an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine training program in the US or Canada may not be less than two years, unless physicians are eligible for certification by the American Board of Radiology (ABR) through the alternate pathway.

Physicians who are eligible for certification by ABR through the alternate pathway (which requires 4 months of Nuclear Medicine training) may also be eligible for certification by ABNM with a minimum of 12 additional months of training in an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine training program in the US or Canada, or 12 months of non accredited Nuclear Medicine training or non accredited Nuclear Radiology training (e.g. fellowship training), provided the training is obtained in an institution with an ACGME accredited program, and all the ACGME Nuclear Medicine residency program requirements in effect that year are met during training. Eligibility for ABR certification through the alternate pathway must be confirmed in writing by ABR.

4. Certification in specialties other than Nuclear Medicine or Radiology

The ABNM may give a maximum of 12 months of credit for certification in a clinical specialty other than Nuclear Medicine or Diagnostic Radiology, provided that the training required for certification is judged to be equivalent to training in the United States or Canada. The required amount of Nuclear Medicine training in an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine training program in the US or Canada may not be less than two years.

5. Prior experience in an institution with an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine or Nuclear Radiology training program

Physicians certified in Nuclear Medicine or Radiology in a country other than the United States or Canada may be eligible for certification by ABNM without additional training in an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine or Nuclear Radiology program under the following circumstances:

  1. Three years of full-time Nuclear Medicine or Nuclear Radiology experience, or equivalent, in a department with an ACGME accredited Nuclear Medicine or Nuclear Radiology training program in any combination of the following categories: resident, fellow, visiting scholar, or faculty. The 3 years may include up to 6 months of research and/or elective time.
  2. The physician must have the training or work experience required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as described in 10 CFR parts 35.190, 35.290 and 35.390.

See Certification Exam Eligibility for a complete description of the requirements.