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Requirements and Guidelines

Requirements for Membership

The Candidate Must:

  • Hold a degree of Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Medicine, Master of Surgery, or Doctor of Osteopathy acceptable to the Board of Regents.
  • Be a licensed physician in practice, teaching, research, or other pursuits in general internal medicine, subspecialties of internal medicine, combination of internal medicine and other related specialties, or neurology. The license(s) must be in good standing. (The license requirement may be waived for those candidates not in clinical practice.)
  • Present evidence of one of the following:
  • Candidates in the United States:
  • satisfactory completion of an approved program in internal medicine, a combined internal medicine residency program, or in neurology.
  • candidates certified in internal medicine or neurology may instead present evidence of certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM), or the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Candidates in ACP Chapters outside the United States:
  • certification in internal medicine by their country's certifying board, or by the ABIM. Those in Québec Province have the option of being certified by the College des Médecins du Québec.
  • If not certified as described above, candidates must provide proof of satisfactory completion of an internal medicine residency or a letter from the Chair of Medicine of their institution. Membership applications from these candidates will be sent to the appropriate ACP Governor for review and recommendation. The ACP Governor may, at their discretion, require letters of support from two current ACP Masters or Fellows.
  • Candidates in other countries (not ACP Chapters): approval of the local society of internal medicine, if applicable. evidence of certification in internal medicine or a subspecialty of internal medicine (or the equivalent) by an appropriate agency or society in their country of residence or origin, or evidence of certification by the ABIM.


If not certified as described above, candidates must provide:

  • documentation of having satisfactorily completed at least three years of training in internal medicine (whatever is customary or nationally accepted) after medical school in an institution recognized by local authorities. A letter from the Chair of Medicine at the candidate's institution may be submitted in lieu of this documentation.
  • letters of support from two current ACP Masters or Fellows. One of the sponsors may instead be the President or Past President of the local internal medicine or subspecialty society.
  • curriculum vitae which is chronologically complete since graduation from medical school.
  • Candidates outside of an established ACP Chapter must be approved by the Credentials Subcommittee.

Membership Guidelines:

  • Associates whose dues are paid are automatically advanced to Membership in the College, upon certification in internal medicine or submission of a copy of their residency completion certificate from an approved program. Associates in Canada and Japan must, however, be certified in internal medicine before election to full Membership. Associates may choose not to advance to Membership, or may request an extension of Associateship in lieu of automatic election to Membership.
  • Those elected to Membership via application form are informed of their election by mail and receive an official Membership certificate signed by the ACP President. Those elected from Associateship via auto election are sent a Membership certificate upon receipt of a completed questionnaire. Benefits are activated as soon as the dues are received.
  • If a Membership application does not fulfill requirements, it will be referred to the appropriate ACP Governor and the national Credentials Subcommittee for review and appropriate action. The ACP Governor and/or the Credentials Subcommittee may request, at their discretion, sponsoring letters from current Masters or Fellows of the College for Membership candidates.
  • Contingent upon favorable review of their credentials, candidates are deemed elected to Membership by the Board of Regents.
  • A Membership application may be requested from the local ACP Governor or by calling the Customer Service Department at 800-523-1546, extension 2600, direct at 215-351-2600, or e-mailing Customer Service. Questions about eligibility requirements should be directed to the Member Records Section, 800-523-1546, extension 2704, or can be e-mailed to mbrservices@acponline.org.

Requirements/Guidelines for Advancement from Membership to Fellowship

The Candidate Must:

  • Have been certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine or be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine, The American Board of Psychology and Neurology in neurology. Members residing in Québec Province have the option of being certified by the College des Médecins du Québec. Physicians residing outside the United States and Canada must be certified by the internal medicine board of their country, if one exists.
  • Have been a Member in good standing for two years in the ACP, ASIM, or the merged organization, and in practice or in an academic position for at least two years since completion of training.
  • Have an active medical license in good standing (if in clinical practice).
  • Have confined his or her professional activity to general internal medicine, subspecialties of internal medicine, combination of internal medicine and other related specialties or neurology.
  • Be proposed and seconded by two current Masters or Fellows with reference to character, ethics, and medical activities. The proposer and seconder must each write detailed letters of support for the candidate, outlining professional contributions and accomplishments.
  • Be reviewed by the appropriate ACP Governor.
  • Have shown continuing scholarship and professional accomplishments. College activities and leadership at both the Associate and Membership level are respected and significant and will be considered along with other accomplishments.
  • Document continuing professional activities, including teaching, both institutional and community-based; hospital committee work; community service, especially the voluntary provision of medical care; and participation in continuing medical education activities as both teacher and student.

The current guidelines acknowledge a range of professional activities that indicate continuing scholarship and professional achievement. Recognizing different kinds of professional growth and continuing scholarship permits four different pathways for advancing to Fellowship. Medical administrators and physicians working in industry can be considered for advancement to Fellowship under a combination of pathways. In the pathways below, involvement with the ACP is always understood to also include involvement in either or both the ACP and ASIM prior to their merger in July of 1998.

Special Note

These four pathways are not intended to be mutually exclusive and are provided only as guidelines to the types of activities necessary to attain Fellowship. Some candidates will be accepted for Fellowship by combining two or more pathways. The national Credentials Subcommittee examines the qualifications of each candidate and weighs all evidence of scholarly activities and professional accomplishments in evaluating candidates for Fellowship. Excellence is the overriding consideration.

All qualified Members are encouraged by the Credentials Subcommittee to consider applying for advancement to Fellowship. Members with questions about their eligibility for advancement to Fellowship can call the Credentials Administrator at 800-523-1546, ext. 2709, or e-mail at mhotea@acponline.org.

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Pathways to Fellowship

Pathway 1

The candidate must meet basic requirements for advancement to Fellowship with an emphasis on demonstrated skill in written medical communication.

Skill in written communication is defined as the ability to organize scientific data clearly and to communicate these data accurately in writing. The candidate does not have to provide reprints of articles (to which he or she contributed the major part of the work and that were published in journals requiring critical peer review), but reprints may be requested by the national Credentials Subcommittee.

At least two articles must have been published after completion of training. In the case of multiauthored articles, the candidate should indicate his or her contributions to the articles in the bibliography, even if he or she is listed as the first author. Articles published in peer-reviewed journals are given more weight.

These medical publications will be considered in conjunction with other professional accomplishments, such as teaching, both institutional and community-based; hospital committee work; community service, especially the voluntary provision of medical care; participation in continuing medical education activities as both teacher and student; and ACP activities. All of these activities must be documented in the proposal and in the curriculum vitae.

Pathway 2

The candidate must meet basic requirements for advancement to Fellowship with an emphasis on significant and continuing certification activity and teaching, both institutional and community-based. Recertification; subspecialty certification; participatio n in the Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program (MKSAP) with a passing score; certificates of special competence in adolescent medicine, critical care medicine, clinical cardiac electrophysiology, geriatrics, or sports medicine are usually required for this pathway but by themselves are not adequate.

Exceptional candidates with outstanding scholarly and/or teaching and/or community activities and ACP activities may qualify even without fulfilling the recertification, subspecialty certification, or MKSAP requirement.

These certification activities will be viewed as significant scholarly achievements and will be considered in conjunction with other professional accomplishments, such as teaching, both institutional and community-based; hospital committee work; community service, especially the voluntary provision of medical care; participation in continuing medical education activities as both teacher and student; and ACP activities. All of these activities must be documented in the proposal and in the curriculum vitae.

Pathway 3

The candidate must meet basic requirements for advancement to Fellowship with an emphasis on active membership in the ACP, ASIM, or the merged organization for at least five years, with substantial participation in ACP or ASIM programs and activities, as well as demonstration of other professional accomplishments.

Such participation can be demonstrated by attendance at Annual Sessions, chapter scientific meetings, postgraduate courses, and other meetings sponsored by the ACP. Participation in the development of educational materials (for example, scientific exhibits and audiovisual materials) exhibited at national and international meetings of the ACP or other recognized societies is considered. Participation in ACP networks, committees, or task forces on the local and national level is also considered significant.

Weight is given to the completion of the Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program (MKSAP), submitted for scoring. Candidates also must document their teaching, both institutional and community-based; hospital committee work; community service, especially the voluntary provision of medical care; and participation in continuing medical education activities as both teacher and student.

Participation in a community-based teaching program is heavily weighted as an ACP sponsored activity. All of these activities must be documented in the proposal and in the curriculum vitae.

Pathway 4

The candidate must meet basic requirements for advancement to Fellowship with an emphasis on distinguished professional activity in teaching, patient care, or professional service over many years.

This category is designed for senior practitioners who have not been active in the ACP, ASIM, or the merged organization. These candidates have gained prominence and respect for professional contributions to the practice of medicine in their communities over a significant period of time.

In this pathway, the national Credentials Subcommittee gives weight to substantial contributions to the professional education of other physicians, medical students, or allied health professionals through teaching, both institutional and community-based; scientific presentations; or the organization of scientific or clinical training programs on a continuing basis. Also recognized are scholarly presentations at scientific meetings or local hospital staff meetings and participation in the organization of scientific activities of local, state, national, and international societies.

A candidate may wish to describe and document active participation in hospital affairs, such as advancement in hospital staff appointments, election to office on the medical staff, and committee activities.

Civic activities that are also considered include work with voluntary health organizations and medical societies, especially the voluntary provision of medical care, community health planning, and public education, as well community service activities not medically related. All of these activities must be documented in the proposal and in the curriculum vitae.

A Fellowship Proposal form may be requested from the local ACP Governor, by calling the Customer Service Department at: 800-523-1546 extension 2600, or direct at 215-351-2600, or by e-mailing custserv@acponline.org. Questions about eligiblity requirements should be directed to the Member Records Section, 800-523-1546, extension 2709, or can be e-mailed to mhotea@acponline.org.

Advancement and Direct Fellowship Guidelines

Direct Fellowship is a singular honor conferred on fewer than 5% of Fellowship applicants. Qualifications nearly always include "superstar" status as an academician or researcher with a national reputation, extensive publications, and an outstanding career.

The Candidate Must:

  • Fulfill all qualifications and requirements for advancement to Fellowship (except the requirement that he or she be a Member for two years) and have graduated from medical school at least ten years before completing a proposal form.
  • Be proposed and seconded by two current Masters or Fellows with reference to character, ethics, and medical activities. The proposer and seconder must each write detailed letters of support for the candidate outlining professional contributions and accomplishments.
  • Be reviewed by the appropriate ACP Governor.
  • Have shown extraordinary scholarly achievement and professional excellence in several areas, including teaching, medical education, scientific presentations to national and international meetings; significant involvement in a hospital or appropriate medical institution or clinical or scientific research; and community activities, either medically or nonmedically related, with special consideration given to the voluntary provision of medical care.
  • Have, additionally, made substantial published scientific contributions to prominent peer-review journals and be able to present other evidence of extraordinary scholarly accomplishments since completion of graduate training.

Special Note

All physicians who wish to be considered for Direct Fellowship must discuss their credentials with their ACP Governor and must obtain a proposal form from their Governor.

Physicians in areas with no ACP Governor can contact the Credentials Administrator at 800-523-1546, ext. 2709, or by e-mail at mhotea@acponline.org to discuss their eligiblity for Direct Fellowship.

Advancement and Direct Fellowship Guidelines

  • Fellowship proposals must be accompanied by written statements by both a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must be current Masters or Fellows of the College) that describe the qualifications of the candidate. The support letters should be addressed to the Chair, Credentials Subcommittee, in care of the Member Records Section at national headquarters. Both sponsors should give the candidate a signed support letter and one copy, both of which must be in a sealed envelope (to ensure confidentiality), which the candidate should submit with the completed proposal. ACP Staff Officers and the current ACP Governor in the candidate's chapter/region are not permitted to act as proposers or seconders for candidates, nor are a candidate's family members. The proposer and seconder must be prepared to add any further information requested by the national Credentials Subcommittee. Candidates who currently belong to the College are encouraged to use the online membership directory [M]"Member Connection" for help in obtaining eligible sponsors. Lists of ACP Masters and Fellows working in the candidate's area can be obtained from the Member Records Section upon request. All Fellowship proposals require recommendation from the appropriate ACP Governor.
  • Normally, the proposer and seconder should be in the ACP Governor's jurisdiction in which the candidate resides or is employed. If the candidate works or resides geographically closer to another Governor's jurisdiction and is better known there, a proposer or seconder in that ACP chapter or region is acceptable. In such a case, the Governor of the neighboring chapter or region may review the proposal, if this is agreeable to the Governor in whose jurisdiction the candidate actually practices or resides. If the candidate has moved within the last year or so and does not know any Masters or Fellows in his or her new location, the proposer and seconder may be Masters or Fellows from the former area. The Governor in the new area must be advised and grant permission for this action.
  • A candidate from the Medical Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force must be endorsed by the Governor of the respective service. In some instances, it may be desirable to have the candidate proposed and seconded by Masters or Fellows living in the locality where the individual is assigned, rather than by Masters or Fellows in the same service. The Governor for the service must approve this action. A local credentials committee consisting of Masters or Fellows, appointed by the Governor and acting at the Governor's request, may recommend the election of Members and Fellows to ACP for the Governor's endorsement.
  • For Fellows, the national Credentials Subcommittee makes appropriate recommendations to the Board of Regents. Candidates are officially notified of their election or deferral by mail. Those elected receive an official Fellowship certificate signed by the ACP President.

Special Adjustments to Requirements for Physicians Outside the United States and Canada

For physicians who reside outside the United States and Canada, there are adjustments to some of the membership requirements. The most important adjustment is that the national Credentials Subcommittee will be sensitive to the wishes of the local society of internal medicine if it is involved in the processing of Associateship, Membership, and Fellowship proposals of candidates from that country. Spanish versions of this Membership Information Booklet, a sample of a generic curriculum vitae, and the memorandum for sponsors are all available online.

Medical Degree

Degrees from a medical school recognized by the country of origin and, when applicable, the World Health Organization (WHO) may be acceptable to the Board of Regents.

Board Certification

Fellowship: Internationally trained physicians living abroad who have not been certified by the ABIM, AOBIM, ABPN, one of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, or the JSIM must submit evidence of certification in internal medicine or a subspecialty of internal medicine (or the equivalent) by an appropriate agency or society in their country of residence or origin. Physicians not certified must submit documentation of having satisfactorily completed at least 3 years of training in internal medicine (whatever is customary or nationally accepted) after medical school in an institution recognized by local authorities. In addition, physicians not certified must provide a detailed explanation of their lack of certification in internal medicine with a request for a waiver of the Board requirement.

Sponsorship and Endorsements

Sponsorship: Candidates for Fellowship must be sponsored by current Masters or Fellows. The ACP Governor and/or Credentials Subcommittee may request, at their discretion, sponsoring letters for Membership candidates. If there are no local sponsors known to the candidate, the sponsors may be Masters or Fellows from the United States or from other countries where the candidate may have trained or worked. One sponsor may be the President or Past President of the internal medicine or subspecialty society of the country in which the candidate resides, whether or not he or she is a current member of ACP. Lists of sponsors can be obtained from national headquarters if needed.

ACP Governor Endorsement for Chapters in Brazil, Central America, Chile, Japan, Mexico, and Venezuela: National headquarters will obtain the recommendation of the appropriate ACP Governor for Fellowship candidates from these areas. An international Associate application should be used and can be obtained from the ACP Governor or from the Member Records Section.

All Other Countries: Physicians in countries other than those listed need not obtain an ACP Governor's recommendation, unless they know an ACP Governor from the United States, Canada, Japan, or Latin America and choose to request his or her endorsement.

In all other respects, physicians residing outside the United States and Canada must meet the normal requirements for Membership and Fellowship.

Withdrawal of Proposals

Applicants for Associateship who are not elected within one year of submission must submit a new application. Membership and Fellowship candidates who fail to meet the requirements within one year of date of application may be withdrawn after suitable notification.

Release of Information on ACP Members

The organization's current policy is to verify a member's current member class and date of election to that membership class upon request. However, through "Member Connection," ACP's online directory, information on members who allow their names to be listed is available to all members.

Ethics and Professionalism

Members are expected to uphold the ethics of medicine as exemplified by the standards and traditions of ACP. Ethical complaints against members are reviewed in accordance with the standards described in the Ethics Manual. The fourth edition of the manual was published in Annals of Internal Medicine. A booklet version can be ordered through Customer Service, as can other ethics-related products. Visit www.acponline.org/running_practice/ethics/ for more information.

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Page updated: 04-03-12

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