Oct 7, 2014
Hi friends. I retook my pediatric boards for the second time today and am feeling a great deal of anxiety. I left the test feeling not very confident that I passed. I am currently in a fellowship. Does anyone know how many times one can retake the boards and what are the consequences if you don't pass when you are in fellowship? Anyone else feel not very confident about 2014 boards?


Waddles, MD
7+ Year Member
Mar 6, 2010
Attending Physician
I do not think there is a strict limit to how many times you can retake the boards, but the ABP recently imposed a time limit of 7 years for obtaining initial certification post residency. If you do not pass within this 7 years, they may force you to do an extra year of training before sitting for the boards again.

In terms of jobs, most hospitals I have heard give new hires 5 years to obtain certification in their primary subspecialty before losing hospital privileges. This actually happened to one of my community preceptors during my 3rd year of medical school.

The main issue since you are in a fellowship is that you cannot sit for your ABP subspecialty certification examination until you pass the general pediatrics examination, which means if you have not passed by fellowship graduation, you would not be considered "board-eligible" until you pass the peds examination. All job postings for subspecialists always say you have to be board certified or board eligible in the field, so this would be an issue with getting a job. Since that becomes an issue with your program director, I have heard of programs who do not allow people to progress in fellowship until they pass the general boards.

Hopefully you took care of business this time around! Nobody really ever feels great after taking the certification examinations, that's for sure. Keep up a positive mindset and focus on your fellowship now.