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Pregnant and Nursing Mother Accommodations

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) will consider requests for medically necessary testing accommodations to support pregnant and nursing mothers. Individuals who believe that they may require such an accommodation should follow the instructions below.

Important note: All candidates should review this policy in its entirety to ensure that they understand their rights and obligations when requesting a testing accommodation. Evaluation of requests for testing accommodations, including review of supporting medical documentation, can be a time-intensive process.

Therefore, candidates seeking a testing accommodation should pay careful attention to the deadlines and submit their testing accommodation request and supporting documentation to ABIM as soon as possible.

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Requesting an Accommodation

To request a testing accommodation, the request and the supporting documentation described below must be submitted in writing in a timely manner to:

Special Exams Coordinator

All requests and supporting documentation must be received no later than 60 days prior to the scheduled exam date. However, we recommend submitting your requests as far in advance of that deadline as possible. Some requests, once granted, may involve a substantial period of time to make the necessary arrangements while also protecting the integrity of the examination, particularly if it involves a special format.

Please note: In order to maximize the potential that a nursing mother will have access to private space in order to express breast milk during an ABIM exam, ABIM must receive a request for such space at least 30 days prior to the physician’s exam date. Space is provided on a first come, first served basis and is subject to availability. This could require a candidate to travel to a test center that has private space available.

All requests should include the following, according to the type of request:

ABIM prefers to communicate directly with candidates who request accommodations. When necessity requires, however, ABIM will communicate with a delegate of a candidate regarding ABIM policy and the status of that candidate’s request for accommodations. In such circumstances, candidates themselves must affirmatively state their intention to communicate through a specific delegate to ABIM. In all cases, communication between ABIM and a candidate’s delegate will not include the sharing of confidential medical information.

Evaluation of Requests

After the candidate makes a request for a testing accommodation and submits the necessary supporting documentation, ABIM will conduct a review of the request. This review is conducted at no expense to the candidate and will entail an assessment of the following issues:

  1. Would provision of the requested accommodation enable the results of the applied-for examination to accurately reflect the candidate’s medical knowledge or clinical judgment or other factors the examination measures?
  2. Would the requested accommodation fundamentally alter the measurement of the skills or knowledge the examination is intended to test, or would it impose an undue burden on ABIM?
  3. If ABIM cannot provide the requested accommodation, are there alternative accommodations that can be made available to the candidate?

Types of Accommodations

Upon submission of the required documentation within the deadlines as shown above, ABIM will provide the following:

Nursing mothers will have:

  • 60 minutes of break time added to the standard pool of scheduled break time found in the specific exam.
  • A private space with an electrical outlet, that is not a restroom, for lactating purposes.

Children are not permitted at Pearson VUE test centers. Please email accommodations@abim.org to discuss options if you are exclusively breastfeeding.

Additionally, ABIM will work with pregnant women on an individual basis to determine the best timing or comfort accommodation. We understand that your needs may vary based on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

The following is a list of common pregnancy testing accommodations that have been requested prior to the deadline and, if appropriate, granted by ABIM:

  • Modified exam format
  • Permission to have water in a clear, spill-proof bottle
  • Prescribed medication (note: pills do not require pre-approval)

Simply contact accommodations@abim.org and our accommodations team will provide any available options for your unique circumstance.

Notification of Determination

Upon completing its review of a candidate's request for an accommodation and all supporting documentation, ABIM will notify the candidate in writing of its determination regarding the requested accommodation and the basis for that determination.

If ABIM declines to accommodate the candidate because it has concluded that the requested accommodation either constitutes a fundamental alteration or an undue burden, ABIM will notify the candidate of any available alternative methods of accommodation which it is prepared to offer. If no alternative accommodations can be identified by ABIM, it will inform the candidate of this fact and invite the candidate to identify any other form of testing accommodation that she wishes to be considered.

Requests for Reconsideration

If a candidate is dissatisfied with ABIM's determination concerning her request for accommodation, the candidate may request a reconsideration of the determination. To do so, the candidate must follow the same instructions and procedures used for Test Takers with Disabilities. See Evaluation of Requests – Requests for Reconsideration. Send reconsideration requests to accommodations@abim.org.