Shortly after its organization, the Health Physics Society (the Society) established a Committee to study the need for certification of health physicists and to develop plans for certification if this appeared to be desirable. After an intensive study, the Committee recommended that an American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) be established to develop standards and procedures, to examine candidates, and to issue written proof of certification to individuals who have satisfied the requirements established by the ABHP. The Board of Directors of the Society decided that these recommendations had merit and appointed a temporary ABHP on November 8, 1958.
The temporary ABHP developed a set of minimum requirements for certification after carefully reviewing the professional background of 100 selected individuals believed to be representative of those recognized as competent health physicists, and submitted them to the membership of the Society for comment. At the Annual Meeting of the Society in June 1959, the matter was discussed in an open meeting and there was general support for the plan. The Board of Directors of the Society formally established the ABHP by approving an amendment to the Bylaws of the Society on October 29, 1959. The ABHP was incorporated in the State of New York in December,1960.
The ABHP Certification Program has been evolving throughout its history. In 1977 a continuing Certification Program was initiated. A year later a specialty certification for Power Reactor Health Physics was developed. By 1981 the program had grown to the point that an Executive Secretary was hired to carry out the day-to-day efforts and to maintain the permanent records. Several hundred persons have been applying yearly to sit for the examinations of the ABHP.
The size and maturity of the certification program prompted the ABHP to urge a further step in this evolving process. In response to the ABHP's belief that the growing body of Certified Health Physicists [CHPs] should have more input and participation in the Certification Program, efforts were initiated in 1982 to create an American Academy of Health Physics. The primary purpose of the Academy is to establish an organization that provides CHPs a voice in the selection of board members and in the ongoing programs of the ABHP. The Academy is not intended to duplicate the activities of the Health Physics Society.
The Power Reactor Health Physics specialty certification was discontinued in 1993. All persons previously certified in this specialty are recertified in the same manner as comprehensively-certified CHPs. After 1997, the roster of Active Certified Health Physicists will not indicate any dual or specialty certifications. In 1994, the corporate structures of the ABHP and the Academy were consolidated. To encourage participation in the certification program and recognize that the attainment of Certification is a process of professional development, the Academy established an Associate Member category in 1991 to recognize those professionals who have successfully completed one part of the Certification Examination. This category of membership recognizes a significant accomplishment in the professional development of health physicists.