Subspecialty Recognition

Emerging neurologic subspecialties can strategically develop and define the standards of competence for physicians and the measure of excellence for training programs in their subspecialty field and have the reputable and experienced peer-reviewed UCNS oversight of the process and programs.

Recognition of Emerging Neurologic Subspecialties

As neurologic subspecialties grow and evolve, they can strategically define and develop the standards of competence for physicians and the measures of excellence for training programs in their subspecialty field. UCNS provides growing subspecialties with a respected accreditation and certification process and organizational oversight that assures the established standards are maintained. UCNS is neurology's nationally recognized certification and accreditation for emerging neurologic subspecialties.

Recognizing Emerging Subspecialties Brochure   
Subspecialty Sponsoring Organization Handbook 
UCNS Subspecialty Taxonomy Codes

Apply for Subspecialty Recognition

The application process for subspecialty recognition begins by securing one or more subspecialty sponsoring organizations to support submission of the UCNS recognition application. Sponsoring organizations are typically subspecialty-related medical societies or subspecialty “sections” of the American Academy of Neurology or another primary specialty society. Sponsoring organizations should have an active role in the development of the initial application, and if an application is approved, sponsoring organizations have an ongoing role as the source of subspecialty subject matter experts and representative volunteers.

The following information will be needed within the application. Links to required templates are included below and further defined within the application.
  • Sponsoring organization(s) information and agreement
  • List of existing training programs
  • List of medical journals that publish research related to the subspecialty
  • Proposed core curriculum for training programs
  • Proposed training program requirements
  • Proposed content outline for certification examination
  • Proposed certification eligibility requirements (only required if applying for certification)
  • Fees (subject to change): $1,000 application fee + $1,000 annual administrative fee

UCNS Subspecialty Recognition Application » 

Required application templates:
Appendix A – Sponsoring Organization Agreement Letter
Appendix B – Sponsoring Organization Bylaws
Appendix C – Proposed Training Program Requirements
Appendix D – Proposed Certification Examination Content Outline
Appendix E – Proposed Certification Eligibility Requirements (only required if applying for certification)

Application Approval Process

New subspecialty applications are initially reviewed by the UCNS staff to determine the application’s completeness before it is forwarded to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors, with feedback from the Accreditation and Certification Councils, determine whether proposed new subspecialties meet the specific criteria and demonstrate sustainable growth potential to support the certification and accreditation processes.

Post-Approval Development Process

Following the approval of a subspecialty recognition application, the final development process begins.

Accreditation - A Measure of Excellence
  • Three subspecialty experts identified and appointed by sponsoring organization(s) to finalize and submit proposed program requirements
  • Proposed subspecialty program requirements submitted to Accreditation Council for approval, followed by a comment period, necessary revisions, and approval by the Board of Directors
  • Application materials developed and piloted by training program directors
  • Fellowship training program accreditation announced to existing and potential programs
  • Accreditation development process takes approximately 6-12 months
  • Fellowship training program applications are accepted throughout the year with semi-annual deadlines of June 1 and December 1 for application review by the Accreditation Council
Certification - A Measure of Expertise​​
  • Ten subspecialty experts are identified and appointed by sponsoring organization(s) to form an examination committee that begins development of certification examination
  • Examination Committee receives item writing and examination database training
  • Initial examination date determined
  • Eligibility criteria finalized
  • Examination content outline and weighting of the content areas determined
  • Initial pool of 300 questions developed for utilization in the 200-question initial examination
  • Examination committee meets at UCNS headquarters in Minneapolis for final examination review and criterion standard setting exercise
  • Examination development process takes approximately 12-18 months
  • Initial examination will include a practice track eligibility pathway as new accredited training programs grow

The Role of the Sponsoring Organization(s)

The subspecialty sponsoring organization(s), society, or independent boards of UCNS-recognized subspecialties have an ongoing active role in developing and updating the standards for their representative subspecialties. 

Sponsoring organizations are the source of nominations for representation:
  • One seat on the UCNS Board of Directors rotating on a voting and non-voting basis
  • Three seats on the Training Program Review Task Force who review and update training curriculum a minimum of once every five years
  • Ten seats on the Certification Examination Committee who are responsible for the development and updating of the subspecialty's certification examination and identification of journal articles for the subspecialty's annual Continuous Certification reading list
Sponsoring organizations are the source of change:
  • Propose subspecialty training requirements changes as needed
  • Propose certification eligibility requirement changes as needed

Staff Contact

Brenda Riggott, Executive Director
[email protected]
(612) 928-6106