The main objectives for which the Faculty was established were to promote the science of, and education in, musculoskeletal pain medicine and to promote scientific methods of treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. In its early years the Faculty's activities were entirely devoted to these objectives but, as time went on, the need arose for some form of recognition of expertise and competence in the field. The Faculty deliberately eschewed the concept of 'grandfathering.’ It determined instead that any recognition given should be based solely on objective examination of a standard comparable to that of the learned Colleges. A process was developed and a Board of Censors was appointed. The first examination was held in 1998. Those who passed the examination then, and subsequently, became Fellows of the Faculty. The Fellowship has evolved as the academic arm of the Faculty.
In 1999, the Medical Council of New Zealand recommended to Government that Musculoskeletal Medicine be recognised in New Zealand as a vocational branch (discipline) of medicine. This was incorporated into the New Zealand Medical Practitioners Act in April 2000. Vocational registration requires successful completion of the Fellowship training requirements of the Faculty.
The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and other insurers/providers in New Zealand have recognised these practitioners with vocational registration in Musculoskeletal Medicine, that is, Fellowship of the Faculty, as specialist providers in Musculoskeletal Medicine.
In 2009, AFMM became responsible for the training of fellows in the speciality of musculoskeletal medicine. Historically prior to this transfer of responsibility, vocational registration had been provided by the NZ Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine. The Faculty has reaccredited with the NZ Medical Council in October 2012 to provide ongoing training and to maintain the standards for accreditation in this speciality.