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The requirements that you will have to meet for internal medicine certification typically depend on the jurisdiction in which you seek this credential and the organization that provides it. Usually, however, you must complete medical school and an on-the-job internal medicine training program referred to as a residency. You also might have to demonstrate that you have met required levels of competency via program evaluations. When you are ready to take the standardized exam for certification, you typically will have to provide any requested documentation, complete an application, pay a fee and go to a test center to take the exam on your scheduled test date.
Usually, you will need an educational background in medicine to gain internal medicine certification. Most certifying organizations will state that you must graduate from an accredited medical school to be eligible for certification. These organizations usually have special rules for individuals who graduated from a medical school in another country. In such a case, you might have to submit foreign credentials and documentation to be eligible. For example, to qualify, you might have to submit a valid certificate from an education commission for foreign medical graduates.
You likely will need training as well when you seek an internal medicine certification. After graduating from medical school, you most likely will need at least three years of additional preparation in the form of an internal medicine residency. Sometimes, however, research programs count toward this requirement. Often, certifying organizations require candidates to complete three different training levels, with each one lasting about 12 months. You typically cannot use time spent in a fellowship to meet these requirements, and repeating a level of training usually will not count toward your total.
Each certifying organization might set a different requirement for the content of the training that you need for internal medicine certification. Many organizations, however, set the minimum at about 30 months total of training in such areas as general internal medicine and emergency medicine. A certifying body might also allow you to spend a few months on areas of medicine that involve primary care. Electives usually are allowed for as long as three months of your training, and you typically are allowed vacation time as well.
When you have completed training and demonstrated competency in the areas required by a certifying body, you usually will have to take an exam to obtain an internal medicine certification. Exams for certification usually are standardized and rigorous. To take a certification exam, you likely will have to provide proof that you meet the eligibility requirements as well as pay a fee and visit a testing center where the test will be administered.
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