The purpose of the Internal Medicine Boards is to certify physicians who have demonstrated the competent level of knowledge, skill, and professionalism to maintain a high standard of health care delivery in the United States. To earn their admitting privileges, Internal Medicine physicians are required by most hospitals to attain an initial certification followed by recertification every ten years to satisfy the certification requirements of health care plans that classify physicians as "preferred" or "in network."
The exam takes place over the course of one day and covers a broad range of topics. The majority of the exam (approximately 75%) is based in an outpatient or emergency department setting; the remaining cases occur in an inpatient setting (ie, intensive care unit, nursing home, etc). Most of the exam will test the examinees' knowledge of traditional internal medicine and its subspecialties, with particular focus given to cardiology, pulmonology, and gastroenterology. However, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) also expects that test takers be well-rounded and prepared to identify and treat patients in departments such as allergy/immunology, dermatology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, nutrition, women's health, and ethics.
Most of the questions require that examinees integrate information from a variety of sources and use appropriate clinical judgment to attain the correct answers. A few of the questions may involve audio/visual aids. Examinees can also expect to see both long- and short-question stems and should be able to manage their testing time effectively.