Common questions about the ABS Continuous Certification Program
FAQs - Continuous Certification Program
Diplomates are automatically enrolled once they certify or recertify in any ABS specialty after July 2005. Continuous Certification officially begins the Jan. 1 following the academic year in which you passed the exam that enrolled you in the program.
Diplomates should maintain their Continuous Certification information on an ongoing basis, pertaining to how they are meeting program requirements such as CME, hospital or surgical center privileges (if clinically active), references, and participation in practice improvement activities. These should be updated no less than every five years. A 12-month operative log (in any specialty) is also required at 10-year intervals. Submitting this information is an entirely online process, although the information you submit may be subject to audit.
Check your status anytime at My Continuous Certification to view when items are due and submit any necessary information. We will also keep you regularly informed of your status.
The CME activity will provide Category 1 credits and use a written or electronic question-and-answer exercise to assess your understanding of the material presented. The CME credits are generally not awarded until a test or quiz is submitted. A passing score of 75% or higher must be required. See our CME page for more details and resources.
Yes. The ABS will automatically waive 60 credits of Category 1 CME and self-assessment toward Continuous Certification for passing a certifying or secure recertification exam. This includes the exam that enrolled you in Continuous Certification. For the ABS, a waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository. For another ABMS board, you will need to enter those credits into your CME Repository and provide documentation if requested.
When updating your Continuous Certification information (go to My Continuous Certification), you will be asked to indicate or describe the type of practice improvement activity in which you are participating. No data is required. Note that the ABS audits a percentage of the submitted forms each year. If audited, you will be asked to provide verification of enrollment or participation. No patient data will be collected.
Many outcomes tracking and quality assessment programs are hospital-based, so you should first check with your hospital to see if any such programs are available to you. In addition, some surgical societies have programs for individual surgeons.
If there are no programs available to you, then you should conduct your own practice assessment activity please see our Practice Improvement page for further details and resources.
There is a registration fee to take a secure recertification exam, and an annual fee once enrolled in the new general surgery assessment process. See our Dates and Fees page for more details.
Yes; you will still need to keep your Continuous Certification profile updated at least every five years (go to My Continuous Certification), including submitting information about your fellowship. Diplomates in a fellowship will have the CME and practice improvement requirements waived during their time in training. To qualify for this waiver, the fellowship must be at least 12 months (and no more than 2 years) in duration and accredited by the ACGME or a surgical organization with a formal accreditation process (e.g., SSO, ASTS, ACS, Fellowship Council, etc.).
Diplomates who no longer operate but still see patients may participate in Continuous Certification by fulfilling the program requirements in ways relevant to their current activities.
Diplomates who no longer see patients at all (clinically inactive) must meet all requirements except for practice improvement. Refer to our Clinically Inactive Policy for more details.
If you are retired and no longer wish to participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program, please contact the Continuous Certification coordinator. If you wish, you may complete an opt-out form so that you no longer receive notifications regarding your Continuous Certification status.
Once a surgeon is enrolled in Continuous Certification, it applies to all certificates a surgeon holds. You should report to the ABS at least every five years regarding the program requirements. The reporting does not have to be repeated for your other ABS certificates. The CME and practice improvement requirements should be completed in whichever areas best reflect your practice. Only the recertification exam or new general surgery assessment must be successfully completed for each certificate.
Activities completed for the Continuous Certification programs of other boards or RCPSC that meet ABS requirements may be used. If you achieved certification or recertification by another ABMS board, you may waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward ABS requirements. Note that there is no automatic reciprocity among boards.
If you entered Continuous Certification upon certifying or recertifying in general surgery, you must be current in meeting ABS requirements to certify or recertify in another ABS specialty. However, once that is achieved, you do not have to continue to maintain your general surgery certificate.
To re-enter the ABS Continuous Certification Program, diplomates must meet specific requirements for CME, reference forms, etc., including a re-entry fee. Please see our Re-entry Policy for further details.
Diplomates who do not report at the required intervals or otherwise fail to meet requirements will be reported as "Not Meeting Requirements" and will need to complete re-entry requirements if they wish to re-enter Continuous Certification. They also are ineligible to take an ABS examination or participate in the new assessment process until re-entry requirements are met.