The applicant shall be of good moral character and high ethical and professional standing. Specific requirements for the application, candidacy, and exams follow.
- Education Requirements
- Professional Experience Requirements (including fellowship and board exceptions)
- Exam Requirements
- Passing Requirements
- General Provisions
The applicant must hold an earned doctoral degree (PhD) in a chemical, physical, biological or clinical laboratory science or an MD, DO, DPM, or DMD degree from an appropriately accredited university or college acceptable to the Board.
The applicant must have satisfactorily completed a minimum of 30 semester hours (or equivalent) of undergraduate and/or graduate level courses taken at institutions acceptable to the Board that meet the combined criteria established by each of the ABCC certification disciplines as shown in Table 1 and Table 2. To demonstrate successful completion of the required semester hours, applicants must submit official transcripts from their undergraduate and graduate institutions, that are sent directly from the institutions to ABCC. Applicants cannot submit their own transcripts.
Applicants with education obtained at institutions outside the United States or Canada must also, at their own expense, have their credentials evaluated by the International Education Research Foundations, Inc., or similar credentialing agency.
- Applicants must arrange to have transcripts from undergraduate and graduate institutions sent directly to ABCCadministrator@aacc.org.
- If applicable, applicant must also arrange to have credential evaluation reports sent directly to ABCCadministrator@aacc.org.
Table 1: Subject Areas/Related Course Classification
Table 2: Distribution of Required Semester Hours per ABCC Certification Discipline
Professional Experience Requirements
Required Experience and Laboratory Setting
Prior to admission to examination, the applicant must demonstrate five years’ full-time (or equivalent part-time) diverse professional experience in the relevant discipline area (clinical chemistry, toxicological chemistry or molecular diagnostics). The experience must be obtained subsequent to conferral of the doctoral degree and in laboratories or institutions maintaining standards in these disciplines that are acceptable to the Board. This experience may be gained as part of and/or outside of a formal training program. Professional experience must occur in a clinical laboratory:
- conducting non-waived testing with an active CLIA certificate,
- conducting non-waived testing in a CMS approved CLIA-exempt laboratory, or
- conducting the equivalent of non-waived testing in a medical laboratory accredited by an ILAC recognized organization to the ISO 15189 standard.
Applicants qualifying for the examination through professional experience must include a statement indicating their laboratory’s accreditation/certification status (e.g. “Lab XX is accredited/certified by organization YY”). To determine whether an accrediting/certifying body adheres to the ISO15189 standard for medical laboratories, we invite applicants to review the list of International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) signatories (https://ilac.org/signatory-search/). For acceptance by ABCC, accrediting/certifying bodies other than CAP/CLIA must be listed as ILAC MRA signatories adhering to the ISO15189 standard for medical testing laboratories. At least 24 months experience are required within the intended discipline of examination, with the following distribution of experience: clinical consultancy (50-70%); technical oversight and laboratory work-flow and operations (15-20%), research, method development, and validation (10-20%), quality assurance and regulatory oversight (5-10%).
Clinical Consultancy Definition and Examples
Clinical consultancy is work that extends beyond clinical laboratory testing and involves integrated and collaborative relationships with clinical teams to care for patients. Clinical consultancy is the active and externally facing participation in the healthcare process.
Clinical consultancy entails active and direct interaction and communication with patient-facing clinical care providers. Clinical consultancy may include any or all of the following, but is not limited to:
- Direct communication with providers regarding a given patient’s testing results that involves the active provision of guidance and expertise to the clinical team
- Explanation of analytical principles to providers who contact the laboratory with questions or concerns about test results
- Covering a service pager for the clinical laboratory and responding to urgent lab-related issues
- Sharing test performance characteristics and implications for patient management with clinical providers in clinical case conferences and other meetings
- Participation in laboratory test utilization decisions with clinicians, and providing consultation on alternate testing options
- Preparation, review, or sign-out of interpretative reports that are part of the patient’s medical record
- Teaching patient-facing residents or fellows practicing medicine outside of the laboratory setting
The applicant should include a descriptive paragraph with their application that clearly outlines (a) the type of work experience that fulfills each category required for the distribution of experience, and (b) the specific amount of time spent in each category outlined above, to ensure they meet the minimum professional experience requirements to sit for boards. A laboratory director who is qualified to serve as director of non-waived testing in a CLIA-certified laboratory, a CMS approved CLIA-exempt laboratory, or a medical laboratory accredited by an ILAC recognized organization to the ISO 15189 standard must also attest as to the candidate’s experience.
Applicants who hold ABCC certification in one specialty may be admitted to ABCC examination in another specialty by providing documentation demonstrating appropriate experience in that specialty. That documentation should include at least 24 months full-time (or equivalent part-time) diverse professional experience in the intended specialty.
- Applicants must upload a CV as a PDF during the online application submission.
- Applicants must arrange to three letters of recommendation sent directly to ABCCadministrator@aacc.org. We cannot accept directly from the applicant.
- If applicable, applicants must also arrange to have a letter of recommendation from their fellowship program director (see exemptions below) sent directly to ABCCadministrator@aacc.org. This is in addition to the three letters of recommendation. We cannot accept directly from the applicant.
- Of applicable, applicants must submit a letter of verification of alternate board certification (see exemptions below). Applicants may sent directly to ABCCadministrator@aacc.org.
- Applicants may provide additional supporting documentation such as cover letter, evidence of other certifications, statements of work experience, etc.
Exceptions to the Professional Experience Requirements
Exceptions to the above professional experience requirements may be made under the following conditions:
In lieu of the requirement for five years of professional experience, fellows with one year participation in an accredited training program that includes appropriate professional experience may apply to an ABCC exam. This is considered early admission to an ABCC exam. The fellow applicant must satisfy both of the following conditions:
- Participation in an accredited program. The applicant will have completed a minimum of one year in a post-doctoral training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Clinical Chemistry (ComACC), the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG), the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM), or other entity acceptable to the Board, and relevant to the intended ABCC exam discipline. To be considered for this exception to professional experience requirements, the post-doctoral training program in which the applicant participates must be fully accredited on the deadline date indicated on the ABCC exam application.
- One year professional experience. The applicant must be able to demonstrate at least 12 months full-time (or equivalent part-time) diverse professional experience in the relevant discipline area (clinical chemistry, toxicological chemistry or molecular diagnostics). This professional experience can be the same as the one year of postdoctoral training required assuming the experience is obtained subsequent to conferral of the doctoral degree and in a laboratory or institution maintaining standards in clinical laboratory science acceptable to the Board. This experience may also be gained outside of the postdoctoral training program if the training program does not meet this criteria. A laboratory director who is qualified to serve as a director of a CLIA-certified laboratory must attest as to the candidate’s experience.
PLEASE NOTE: Fellows that pass ABCC exams as part of early admission process will not become an ABCC diplomate until formal documentation of fellowship completion is received. Applicants admitted under the “Fellow Exception” must have successfully completed the accredited postdoctoral training program AND must demonstrate 24 months full-time (or equivalent part-time) diverse professional experience. This professional experience can be the same as the time spent in postdoctoral training assuming the experience meets the professional criteria. This experience may also be gained outside of a postdoctoral training program if the training program does not meet this criteria. Acceptable documentation of fellowship completion includes a letter from the program director stating successful completion of the training program, a certificate of completion from the training program with program director signature, or a combination of both letter and certificate. Fellows that pass ABCC exam but do not successfully complete postdoctoral training will not be designated as an ABCC diplomate until the full five year’s of professional experience beyond the postdoctoral training program is met. The fellow applicant must also meet all of the educational requirements outlined above.
Alternate Board Certification Exception:
In lieu of the requirement for five years of professional experience, applicants may use certification by a relevant alternative board or acceptance as a candidate for alternative board exam and two years of professional experience. This is considered early admission to the ABCC exam. The applicant must satisfy both of the following conditions:
- Alternate board certification. The applicant is able to document board certification or acceptance as a candidate for exam to an exam board acceptable by the ABCC and relevant to the intended discipline. Acceptable boards include but are not be limited to:
- American Board of Bioanalysis – Molecular Diagnostics (ABB)
- American Board of Clinical Chemistry (ABCC)
- American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG)
- American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM)
- American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI)
- American Board of Pathology (ABP)
- American Board of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ABHI)
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT)
- American Board of Applied Toxicology (ABAT)
- American Board of Medical Toxicology (ABMT)
- American Board of Preventive Medicine or ABP Medical Toxicology Subspecialty Exam
- Two years professional experience. The applicant is able to document at least 24 months full-time (or equivalent part-time) diverse professional experience. The experience must be obtained subsequent to conferral of the doctoral degree and in laboratories or institutions maintaining standards in clinical molecular diagnostics or clinical toxicology that are acceptable to ABCC. This experience may be gained as part of and/or outside of a formal training program. A laboratory director who is qualified to serve as a director of a CLIA-certified laboratory must attest as to the candidate’s experience.
PLEASE NOTE: Applicants that pass ABCC exams under the “Alternate Board Certification Exception” will not become an ABCC diplomate until formal documentation of alternate board diplomate status is received. This exception requires that applicants have successfully obtained diplomate status from the alternate board prior to becoming an ABCC diplomate. The applicant must also meet all of the educational requirements outlined above.
Sitting for an Exam
An Applicant will become a “Candidate” for exam when the board or its committees are satisfied that the requirements for admission have been met. The Candidate for exam will be notified at least 45 days prior to an upcoming exam period. Visit Application and Exam Schedules for advance information on exam dates. Details on participating in an exam include:
- Exam period take place twice a year; generally in February and August. This will give Candidates two attempts per year. Eligible Candidates will be notified by the email provided in their application approximately 45 days prior to each exam period. This will be the Candidates opportunity to enroll in an exam period. It is not required to enroll in every exam period offered; however, the Candidate is limited to a 3-year eligibility period to successfully pass all exam parts of the specialty. Visit Application and Exam Schedules for advance information on exam dates.
- Candidate must submit online payment for the exam of interest. Candidates wanting to participate in an upcoming exam period must use the provided payment process sent in the exam notification email prior to each exam period. Details on self-registration for the day and time of the exam will only be provided to individuals that have submitted online payment within the designated timeframe.
- Candidates may take multiple exam parts within an exam period. Candidates attempting Clinical Chemistry and Toxicological Chemistry may enroll for both Part A and Part B in a single exam period. This is not required, but is an option as these exam parts are scheduled on different days in the exam period.
- Candidates must notify ABCCadministrator@aacc.org of any requested change at least 7 business days prior to the exam date. After online payment and/or self-registration of an exam, the Candidate must notify ABCC of a change request at least 7 business days prior to the exam. This includes requests to cancel an exam or change the date or time. Failure to notify ABCC of a change request 7 business days or greater from the exam date will result in forfeiture of the the exam fee.
Exam Eligibility Period and Passing Requirements
In order to become an ABCC diplomate, the Candidate must pass all required exam parts within the 3-year eligibility period. Candidates may only attempt an exam part twice within an eligibility period. This eligibility period will end after 3 years OR once a Candidate fails an exam part twice, whichever comes first. Details on the exam passing requirements include:
- Successfully pass all required exam parts as defined in the specialty within the 3-year eligibility period. Visit the Certifications page for details on the parts of each specialty (Clinical Chemistry, Molecular Diagnostics, and Toxicological Chemistry). All exam parts must be successfully passed with a 3-year period.
- The 3-year eligibility period begins on the exam period immediately following the determination of an Applicant to become a Candidate. The eligibility period will begin the immediate following exam period following the determination that an Applicant becomes a Candidate. The eligibility period ends after 3 years on the same exam period as the initial exam period. For example, an Applicant that becomes a Candidate in December 1999 will have an eligibility period starting with the February 2000 exam period and ending with the February 2003 exam period. The 3-year eligibility period effectively gives Candidates 7 exam periods to complete.
- Candidates also have a limit of two attempts to successfully pass an exam part. Eligibility extends 3 years. However, Candidates are only given two attempts to pass any individual exam part. If the Candidate fails an exam part before the end of the 3-year eligibility period, the eligibility period effectively ends and the individual must reapply to sit for future exams. Please refer to the Reapplication Requirements section for details.
- Exam parts are not transferrable between eligibility periods. For example, if a Candidate passes Clinical Chemistry Part A and fails Clinical Chemistry Part B twice, the Candidate’s eligibility period ends and the individual must reapply and pass all exam parts in the subsequent eligibility period. The results of the prior eligibility period (i.e., passing Clinical Chemistry Part A) does not carryover into the new eligibility period. Candidates are required to sit for all exam parts regardless of past performance on any one portion.
- Failure to take or pass the exam parts within this time will result in termination of the eligibility period. If necessary, a Candidate that does not pass all exam parts within the eligibility period may reapply to sit for an ABCC exam. Details on Reapplication Requirements are below.
- Candidates can only be eligible for one specialty at a time. Individuals cannot apply for or be eligible for multiple specialties during the same eligibility period. For example, an individual cannot apply for or be eligible to sit for the Clinical Chemistry AND Toxicological Chemistry specialties during the same period. Individuals must complete or end an eligibility period by either successfully passing all exam parts or failing an exam part twice BEFORE applying for another specialty.
An individual may reapply for certification only once per specialty. A new online application for certification and corresponding application processing fee must be submitted.
The applicant’s reapplication must allow at least one exam sitting to elapse between eligibility periods.
The applicant must again arrange for three letters of reference to be submitted by the originators directly to the ABCC office. These must be current at the time the application is submitted and should attest to familiarity with the applicant’s professional expertise, the length of acquaintance, and the good character of the applicant insofar as pertinent to the Board.
In the absence of information to the contrary, all prior documentation of education and experience will be deemed by the ABCC to meet the requirements in effect at the time of original application and will be accepted for reapplication.
When the above conditions are met, the applicant will be allowed to take the exam in accordance with prevailing rules and regulations governing the taking of the exam.
General Provisions Concerning Certification
ABCC reserves the right to deny Certification for cause. Certificates issued by the board are not transferable. They may be revoked for misrepresentation, or other valid causes.
Successful candidates are issued a Certificate of Qualification by the Board to attest to their status as Diplomates of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. Persons holding a valid Certificate of Qualification issued by the Board are entitled to use the designation “Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry” and the initials “DABCC” whenever professionally appropriate.
Standards, requirements, and application procedures for Certification are subject to revision by the Board. The latest official version is available from the ABCC office.
Diplomates of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry who complete the required continuing education requirements are referred to as Active members.
This is a summary of the by-laws and not a substitute for the by-laws.