Board Certification in Psychology: Insights from Medicine and Hospital Psychology

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Abstract

For physicians board certification is an accepted tradition that research suggests improves services and outcomes. In contrast, relatively few psychologists pursue board certification suggesting ambivalence or limited contingencies reinforcing it. The authors report on medical school and hospital-based psychologists' attitudes toward board certification and current certification status. About one-fifth (21.7%) of the sample were certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology, a greater proportion than psychologists generally: Highest rates were seen in neuropsychology (7.5%), clinical psychology (6.4%), clinical child and adolescent psychology (3.2%) and clinical health psychology (2.8%). Few (<2%) reported their hospitals required board certification. Half recognized benefits to the profession for psychologists pursuing board certification, yet 70% opposed requiring it for their hospital-based practice. Forces seeking to promote healthcare quality ultimately may increase expectations for board certification. If consumers, employers, hospitals and managed care organizations demand board certification for health professionals, greater numbers of psychologists would likely seek it.

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