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ABO Statement on the ABMS Designation of 'Area of Focused Practice'

Today, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the umbrella organization for the nation’s 24 medical specialty certification boards including the American Board of Ophthalmology, announced the creation of “Area(s) of Focused Practice” within board certification.

An Area of Focused Practice differs from a subspecialty. According to the ABMS definition, a subspecialty requires fellowship training and comprises a distinct and definable patient population, a precise care need, a standalone body of medical knowledge, and unique care principles solely to meet the needs of that patient population. ABMS Member Boards have greater flexibility to define the parameters of an Area of Focused Practice and develop the knowledge and training standards for each designation.

At this time, the American Board of Ophthalmology neither designates Areas of Focused Practice nor issues subspecialty certificates, but is open to discussions with subspecialty societies regarding this topic. Please continue to share your thoughts on subspecialization in ophthalmology with us via this survey or write to

If you represent a subspecialty organization and you are interested in discussing an application with the Board, please review this information and contact


Focused Practice Q&A

Q. What is an Area of Focused Practice?

A. An Area of Focused Practice as defined by the ABMS involves at least one of three criteria: 1) an evolving area of practice, 2) an area of practice that is limited in scope or size, or 3) a specialized procedure. The pilot example, developed by the American Boards of Internal Medicine and Family Medicine, is an Area of Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine. Areas of Focused Practice differ from a subspecialty because they do not necessarily represent an ACGME-accredited fellowship training area. Certification boards have the flexibility to define the standards for Areas of Focused Practice.

Q. Does an Area of Focused Practice result in a physical certificate?

A. The ABMS has left this up to the sponsoring board or boards.

Q. What does an Area of Focused Practice mean for me as a diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology?

A. Right now, the ABO has not designated any Areas of Focused Practice within ophthalmology. We encourage you to share with us your thoughts and ideas on this topic to inform future development.

Q. Is the ABO awarding subspecialty certification?

A. No, the ABO is not awarding subspecialty certification at this time, but is open to a dialogue with diplomates and subspecialty organizations about this topic.

Q. I have an idea for an Area of Focused Practice or subspecialty certificate.

A. Please review this document for more information and write to for further instructions.

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