Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination - Overview
New Exam Admissibility Policy: The ABS has instituted a new policy that changes the length of time and number of opportunities offered for this exam.
About the Exam
- The Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination is a computer-based examination offered annually by the ABS. It is required as part of the board certification process for vascular surgery. The exam consists of approximately 240 multiple-choice questions designed to assess the applicant's cognitive knowledge. It is a one-day exam lasting six hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. Results are posted and mailed approximately four weeks after the exam.
- The exam is copyrighted and its contents may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner (see Ethics and Professionalism Policy). Active duty military personnel who may encounter difficulty taking the exam due to their service should contact the ABS as soon as possible (see also Military Activation Policy).
- Note: Previously individuals who completed general surgery residency before July 1, 2006 had to achieve certification in general surgery prior to vascular surgery certification. This policy has been eliminated. These individuals now only have to pass the General Surgery QE or SPE before pursuing vascular surgery certification.
- Next Exam: November 2014
- To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:
- Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
- Accredited Program: Have satisfactorily completed a program in vascular surgery accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).
- Prerequisite Exam: Have successfully completed either the General Surgery Qualifying Exam or the Surgical Principles Exam (SPE). See Training Pathways and SPE for details on approved training pathways and related requirements.
- Responsibility: Have obtained increasing levels of responsibility during the course of vascular surgery training, including serving as chief resident for a 12-month period.
- Training Time: Have acquired no fewer than 48 weeks of full-time surgical experience in each residency year. See Leave Policy for further details.
- Full-Time Research: For individuals in integrated programs, no more than six months may be devoted to research. For individuals in independent programs, no more than 10% of the total required surgical experience may be devoted to research (effective with surgeons completing training in 2013-2014 academic year). Research time beyond 10% requires prior ABS approval.
- Number of Programs: Have completed their vascular surgery training at no more than two programs. For integrated programs, the final two years must be completed at the same institution. For independent programs, the final 18 months must be completed at the same institution. Individuals in independent programs must also have completed their general surgery residency at no more than three programs.
- ACLS and ATLS: The programs Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Advanced Trauma Life Support® (ATLS®). Applicants are not required to be currently certified in these programs; they must only provide documentation of successful completion.
- Professional Activity: Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of vascular surgery 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.
- Operative Log: Submit for the ABS' review a report of operative experience as surgeon and assistant surgeon that is deemed acceptable to the ABS, not only as to volume, but as to spectrum and complexity of cases. This includes at least 250 major vascular reconstructions. Cases must be from the applicant's vascular surgery residency or fellowship and verified by the program director.
- Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.
RPVI Required as of 2014
- Applicants to the 2014 Vascular Surgery QE and thereafter will be required to possess the Registered Physician Vascular Interpretation (RPVI®) credential. This credential is obtained by successfully completing the Physicians Vascular Interpretation Examination, which evaluates knowledge and skills commonly used in a vascular laboratory setting.
- Canadian applicants must adhere to all of the above requirements and must have completed all general surgery and vascular surgery training in programs accredited by the RCPSC or ACGME. Effective with applicants who will complete an independent vascular surgery program in the 2014-2015 academic year, 12 months of rotations related to vascular surgery must have been completed during general surgery residency. Canadian applicants should also make certain that any "block rotations" will meet VSB-ABS requirements.
How to Apply
- Individuals who meet ABS requirements may apply for the exam through the online application process, which is posted in early spring (Application Instructions).
- After your application is approved, you will be sent instructions on how to register for this year's examination and submit payment of the separate exam fee. Once you are registered, you will be mailed an exam admission authorization letter with final details about your exam and instructions on reserving a place at a computer-testing center.
Examination Opportunities and Admissibility
- Applicants who will complete vascular surgery training in the 2012-2013 academic year and thereafter: Please see the ABS' new exam admissibility policy.
- Applicants who completed vascular surgery training prior to July 1, 2012: Upon application approval, you will be offered a maximum of five opportunities within a five-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 exam admissibility period, examinees who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.
- Applicants who exhaust their admissibility period must fulfill additional requirements to regain admissibility to the certification process: Readmissibility Policy.
Vascular Surgery Certifying ExaminationUpon successful completion of the Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination, an applicant is admissible to the Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination, an oral examination, and will be contacted with registration information for the next exam.
For complete requirements regarding certification in vascular surgery, refer to the Booklet of Information - Vascular Surgery (pdf).
- Application and Examination Dates
- Application and Examination Fees
- Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination Content Outline (pdf)
- Guide to ABS Examinations (pdf) - exam development, scoring, how to prepare
- Vascular Surgery Examination Statistics
- Computer-Based Examinations - What to Expect
- Frequently Asked Questions
For specific inquiries, please send an e-mail to the examination coordinator.