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Subspecialty Certification in Neurocritical Care

Subspecialty Certification in Neurocritical Care

  • Successful completion of the neurocritical care subspecialty certification exam is required for board certification in neurocritical care. The first neurocritical care exam will be administered in 2021. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must be currently certified by the ABS in surgical critical care, in addition to completing the required training.
  • During a six-year "grandparenting" or practice pathway period, eligible SCC diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in neurocritical care by the UCNS or CAST, have completed a fellowship in neurocritical care, or have documented a certain amount of post-training clinical practice specifically related to neurocritical care. Please see "Grandparenting/Practice Pathway" below for more information.
  • Certification in neurocritical care is offered in conjunction with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Neurological Surgery. An applicant may pursue the certification process through only one certifying board.
    Next Exam: Fall 2021
    Application Deadline: Spring 2021

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Certification/Continuous Certification: Be currently certified in surgical critical care by the American Board of Surgery and in compliance with the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
  • Grandparenting/Practice Pathway: Have fulfilled the grandparenting/practice pathway as defined below.
  • Case Log: Attest to your current privileges and clinical activity in neurocritical care (practicing it, on average, at least one day per week during 12 consecutive months over the previous three years). You will be asked to submit a report of your neurocritical care experience for ABS approval.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of neurocritical care as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in another recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.
  • Be capable of performing independently the entire scope of the neurocritical care practice without accommodation or with reasonable accommodation.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Grandparenting/Practice Pathway

During a six-year “grandparenting” or practice pathway period, eligible diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in neurocritical care by the UCNS or CAST, have completed a UCNS, CAST, or other non-accredited fellowship in neurocritical care, or have documented one of the following:

  • An average of at least 17% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of neurocritical care (at least seven hours per week) for the past six years,* or
  • An average of at least 25% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of neurocritical care (at least 10 hours per week) for the past four years,* or
  • An average of at least 33% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of neurocritical care (at least 13 hours per week) for the past three years,* or
  • An average of at least 50% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of neurocritical care (at least 20 hours per week) for the past two years,* or
  • An average of at least 25% of their total post-training professional time spent in the practice of neurocritical care (at least 10 hours per week) for the past four years.**

* This calculation is based on an average work week of 40 hours. Physicians whose total practice exceeds 40 hours per week may still use the 40 hours number as the denominator of their percentage calculation.

** This approach specifically applies to academic program directors, administrators, or researchers, and provides them a pathway to qualification.

Post Grandparenting/Practice Pathway Period

After the six year “grandparenting” or practice pathway period, all candidates who register for the neurocritical care exam must meet the exam registration requirements listed earlier and must have completed one of the following training pathways:

  • One year of general ACGME-accredited surgical critical care fellowship AND one year of an ACGME-accredited neurocritical care fellowship, or
  • Two years of an ACGME-accredited neurocritical care fellowship

Exam Opportunities

  • Once your application is approved, you will be granted a maximum of 5 opportunities within a 5-year period to pass the exam. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute.
  • During the five-year period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.
  • Individuals who exhaust their five-year admissibility period should contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Maintaining Certification

  • If successful on the exam, you will be deemed certified in neurocritical care and receive your official certificate within 6 months from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). You must participate in the ABA MOCA 2.0® program to maintain your certificate.

For specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.


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