As part of Continuous Certification, the ABS requires 150 credits of Category 1 CME over five years. The CME must be relevant to your practice, or if clinically inactive, to the broad discipline of surgery.
Category 1 CME activities are formal educational experiences accredited by the AMA, ACCME, RCPSC or EACCME. These may include seminars, conferences, grand rounds, webinars, podcasts, skills courses and departmental scientific meetings.
CME courses completed for state licensing requirements and on topics such as ethics, patient safety, surgeon leadership, etc., are accepted. Diplomates who hold multiple ABS certificates do not have to repeat the CME requirement for each certificate.
The ABS expects that each CME credit corresponds to one hour of time spent on the activity. Therefore the ABS will generally not accept more than 12 credits of CME earned in a single day.
In addition, at least 50 of the 150 CME credits must include self-assessment: a question-and-answer exercise that assesses your understanding of the material presented in the CME program.
The activity must require a score of 75% or higher for the self-assessment to count. There is no required minimum number of questions and repeated attempts are allowed.
Many live CME events, such as grand rounds and conferences, require a post-test before credit is awarded. CME activities from journals, textbooks, and web-based programs also usually contain self-assessment. Audience response systems are also acceptable if they provide individual scores.
There is no ABS approval process for self-assessment activities. Hospitals, societies and other organizations may develop programs per the ABS criteria above. Programs that meet ABS requirements may state that they provide CME and self-assessment credit toward the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
Diplomates are required to submit information at least every five years about their completed CME and self-assessment activities. Diplomates who are members of the ACS, SAGES, SSO or ASMBS may directly transfer CME credits. No documentation is required at that time; however the ABS audits a percentage of diplomates each year. If you are selected for audit, you will need to supply documentation of CME.
Waiving of CME
The requirement above will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required once diplomates pass their first general surgery assessment.
The ABS will also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment for passing a certifying or secure recertification exam. A waiver for 60 credits will appear in your CME Repository.
If you achieved certification or recertification by another ABMS board, you may also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment. The 60 credits must be entered by you into your CME Repository. If requested, you would need to provide a photocopy of your certificate or similar documentation.
Diplomates in a fellowship are also exempt from the CME/self-assessment requirement during their time in training. The fellowship must be at least 12 months (and no more than 2 years) in duration and accredited by the ACGME or an organization with a formal accreditation process (e.g., SSO, ASTS, ACS, Fellowship Council, etc.). CME and self-assessments credits will be prorated based on the remaining time in the five-year period.
Diplomates can also apply to the AMA to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit for certification or recertification by the ABS or another ABMS board. The AMA will also grant credit for teaching at a live CME activity, being first author on a published article, and obtaining a medically-related advanced degree. See the AMA website and direct CME application (pdf). The number of credits granted is determined solely by the AMA.
Some available resources for CME with self-assessment:*
* The ABS posts these links as a service to diplomates; it assumes no responsibility for the content of these programs. Posting of links is at the discretion of the ABS. For a CME activity to be posted on this page, it must be: (1) sponsored by a nonprofit organization; (2) national in scope; (3) contain content applicable to ABS diplomates; (4) meet the ABS' definition of self-assessment; (5) be an enduring, ongoing program.