Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a certification program for Lipid Specialists?

Atherosclerotic events, including myocardial infarction and stroke, account for approximately one-third of all deaths in the U.S. Patient management of lipid disorders employing dietary, lifestyle, and pharmacologic modalities has been demonstrated to be one of the most effective strategies for treatment of cardiovascular disease. Yet, the number of specialists with expertise in lipid management is inadequate to address this large population of patients. The American Board of Clinical Lipidology was established to assess the level of knowledge required to be certified as a Lipid Specialist, to encourage professional growth in the practice of Lipidology, and to enhance practice behaviors which improve the quality of patient care.

What is a Lipid Specialist?

Lipid Specialists come from a variety of physician specialties such as Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Family Practice, Osteopathy, and Obstetrics & Gynecology as well as advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, exercise specialists and others meeting the eligibility criteria and successfully passing the exam. Our certification program establishes a consistent benchmark of expertise in the field of clinical Lipidology.

Why should I become a certified Lipid Specialist?

The commitment to achieve certification by the American Board of Clinical Lipidology requires hard work, time and effort, however, the recognition carries with it significant, long-term value including the following benefits:

  • Certification by the ABCL signifies that you have documented your commitment to continued professional development in Lipidology.
  • Certification provides assurance to the public, your colleagues and the medical profession that you have successfully completed a course of education in lipid management and have passed an additional rigorous examination in Clinical Lipidology.
  • Certification contributes to your professional stature and credibility in the field and provides stronger credentials for enhanced professional and advancement opportunities.
What is a “Diplomate of the ABCL”?

A Diplomate has successfully credentialed and passed the certification exam, and has been endorsed by the American Board of Clinical Lipidology as displaying a high level of experience, knowledge, and competence in clinical lipidology.

How long does it take to qualify for the ABCL exam?

It depends on if you have earned the requisite number of points required to successfully credential for the exam by the time of application. A physician board-certified by a primary care board such as ABIM or ABFM and also holding subspecialty certification in a related field such as endocrinology or cardiology would automatically possess 100 of the 200 points necessary to sit for the ABCL exam. After you apply, the Credentialing Committee will decide within 30 days whether you qualify for the exam. See the eligibility requirements for more information.

Does the ABCL require recertification or maintenance of certification?

Yes. The ABCL requires participation in its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Diplomates must complete a recertification exam every 10 years and provide documentation of at least 250 points during the preceding 10 years as outlined at Diplomates from 2005-2007 must recertify by December 2017. Diplomates 2008-current must recertify on the 10 year anniversary of their initial certification. Diplomates may voluntarily participate in a one-time recertification exam by December 2017. The alternate MOC pathway will be available to all existing Diplomates certified 2005-2014. Upon completion of the one-time recertification exam, Diplomates will not have to take a recertification exam again. They will be grandfathered. In each successive 10 year period after the recertification exam, Diplomates must provide documentation of at least 250 points as outlined at

How many Lipid Specialists have been certified?

Since November 2005, approximately 1,000 clinicians have achieved certification as a Lipid Specialist.

Is the examination difficult? What is the pass rate?

The National Lipid Association (NLA) offers a lifelong learning program that paves the way for professional development and recognition of the distinct and specialized knowledge required of clinical lipidologists. Lipidology is an evolving field that requires clinicians to stay abreast of the latest clinical research and treatment guidelines and to apply this knowledge in practice. The NLA has developed educational activities at all levels of competency and provides continuous clinical updates, opportunities for self-assessment and practice improvement.

The ABCL recommends the NLA’s Self-Assessment Program (NLA-SAP) and the NLs Masters in Lipidology Course as the best preparation for the ABCL exam. In addition, the credit hours earned from participating in these activities will help you to meet the credentialing criteria.

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What are the Fees?

Application and Credentialing Fee $300 (non-refundable)*
Examination Fee….……………………….. $900
Total Certification Fee………………… $1,200
* A one-time $300 nonrefundable application fee is incurred upon receipt of the application by the ABCL, regardless of eligibility outcome.

Is ABCL recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)?

The ABCL is an independent certifying board, established as a nonprofit 501c3 organization in 2003. At this time, the board is not recognized by the ABMS or any other accrediting agency. The leadership of the NLA and the ABCL are committed to the formal recognition and designation of specialty status for the field of Clinical Lipidology by the ABMS, however, this is a long-term pursuit. The process of applying for ABMS recognition is rigorous and many requirements must be met before ABMS will consider an application from a new Board, including the approval of ACGME recognized training programs in the field.

*Please note that several states restrict a physician’s use of the term “board certification” to those boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The American Board of Clinical Lipidology adheres to the “AMA Guidelines for Truthful Advertising Physician Services,” used to ascertain the legitimacy of certifying boards, although the ABCL has not been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

However, because several states prohibit a physician from advertising “board certification” by a Board not recognized by the ABMS, physicians should consult with state law before explicitly advertising “board certification” by the ABCL. Use of the term “Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Lipidology” is acceptable in all states.

ABCL Diplomates should consult with local authorities to ascertain local regulations before advertising their ABCL board certification.

Do you offer certification to physicians practicing outside of the United States?

The ABCL certification program is currently open to physicians licensed in the United States or Canada only. The credentialing criteria and the examination terminology have been designed to meet US standards. A separate international certification program is under consideration.