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Since August 2007 the certifying examination in dermatology has been administered in a single day, comprised of three sections:

  • Examination in Dermatopathology: In this section, candidates are questioned on 36 glass histopathologic slides that they examine on microscopes provided by the Board. This section of the examination encompasses the entire spectrum of dermatopathology
  • Written Multiple Choice Examination in Dermatology: This 132-question section tests the candidate's knowledge of the basic science and clinical aspects of dermatology, including all the related disciplines. Among the topics included in this part of the examination are clinical dermatology, pediatric dermatology, preventive dermatology, entomology, epidemiology, dermatopathology, cutaneous allergy and immunology, dermatologic surgery, cutaneous oncology, sexually transmitted diseases, internal medicine as it pertains to dermatology, medical ethics, photobiology and cutaneous microbiology as well as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, radiation therapy, Dermatology, pharmacology, genetics, and electron microscopy as related to dermatology. Considerable emphasis is placed on comprehensive knowledge of the literature.
  • Image-associated Examination in Clinical, Laboratory, and Surgical Dermatology: 160 projected digital images are utilized in this part of the examination. Candidates must answer multiple choice type questions about the projected pictorial material, which is drawn from all areas of clinical, laboratory and surgical dermatology.

    • Examples of the types of images used include photographs of patients, diagrams and illustrative drawings and pictures of histopathologic sections, bacterial cultures, Tzanck preparations, skin scrapings and smears, roentgenograms, histochemical and fluorescent photo-micrographs, electron micrographs, darkfield micrographs and drawings or photographs of organisms, including viruses, rickettsiae, bacteria and parasites that affect the skin.
    • Candidates must answer multiple choice type questions about the projected pictorial material covering dermatologic surgical areas including, but not limited to, Mohs micrographic surgery, hair transplantation, dermabrasion, sclerotherapy, liposuction, chemical peels, tissue augmentation, and anatomy as it relates to dermatologic surgery.

The results of the examination are reported as a single Pass/Fail score. Unsuccessful candidates will be required to repeat the entire examination.

CERTIFICATION (more information)

After meeting the requirements and passing the examination, the candidate will be awarded a certificate which acknowledges that he or she has completed the required course of graduate study and clinical training, has met other specific standards and qualifications, and has passed the examination conducted by the Board. The candidate is then referred to as a Diplomate of The American Board of Dermatology, Inc. The names of diplomates of the Board appear in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, published by Marquis Who's Who in cooperation with the American Board of Medical Specialties. The certificate is issued for a 10-year period. Renewal is subject to completion of Maintenance of Certification requirements.

Each certificate is subject to revocation or suspension in the event that (a) the diplomate was not eligible to receive the certificate, whether or not the facts concerning ineligibility were known to the Board when the time certificate was issued; (b) the diplomate has made any material misrepresentation or omission in the application for certification or in any other statement to the Board or has failed in timely fashion to supplement any response to any question on any application for certification or recertification with respect to criminal conduct, loss or suspension of a medical license, medical staff privileges, or medical society membership; (c) the diplomate is convicted of, or pleads nolo contendere to a crime, which in the judgment of the Board relates to the practice of medicine; (d) the diplomate is found to have engaged in conduct which, in the judgment of the Board, (i) reflects unethical activity relating to the practice of medicine, or (ii) casts signficiant doubt on the ability of the diplomate to practice medicine in the best interests of patients; or (e) the diplomate is found by the Board to have (i) engaged in irregular behavior in connection with the examination, (ii) had a license to practice medicine revoked or suspended, (iii) been expelled from a medical society for reasons other than non-payment of dues or failure to attend meetings, (iv) has had medical staff privileges revoked or suspended for reasons relating to the practice of medicine, (v) taken other action reasonably deemed by the Board to be inconsistent with diplomate status, or (vi) willfully and materially violated any rule or policy of the Board.


With their initial examination application, candidates have a two-year period during which they may take the examination or any necessary re-examination. For a re-examination, candidates must notify the Board office by March 1 of the year they plan to retake the examination. If a candidate has not passed or does not take the examination during this two-year period, he/she must re-apply and complete the necessary forms, after which he/she will have another two year period of eligibility during which to take the examination or re-examination. For further information concerning this as well as the appropriate fee required, contact the Board office.


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