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.
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 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.
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.
In response to diplomate feedback, including survey responses from nearly 10,000 diplomates, we have designed this new assessment process to provide a more convenient and flexible way of maintaining ABS certification.
Check your status periodically at My Continuous Certification and see if there’s any information that needs to be submitted regarding the other program requirements of Continuous Certification. In general, these need to be updated no less than every five years. This now includes submission of two reference forms at five-year intervals. An operative experience report (in any ABS specialty) is also required every 10 years. We plan to have the reference forms and operative report available before registration opens on Aug. 1, so diplomates who need to submit them can begin working on them.
Given how quickly surgical knowledge and practice are changing, we felt it was important to move to a more modern program of ongoing education and assessment. The new program is also designed to be more convenient, flexible and practice-related, to better reflect how diplomates practice today. The goal is to support diplomates in improving the care they provide, while upholding the high standards of ABS certification.
The annual fee reflects the ongoing development of all aspects of the Continuous Certification Program, including diplomate status tracking, public reporting of diplomate status, self-service features like the CME Repository, and the new modular assessment process, which will require hundreds of new questions with explanations and references, as well as a new online delivery platform. The annual fee of $285 covers all general program participation, including one assessment every other year. Diplomates will start paying the fee once they enroll.
Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program will not lose their general surgery certification until the end of the grace year. Once that occurs, successful completion of a secure exam will be required to regain certification. Diplomates who do not register for the assessment will not be enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. They will not receive a grace year and will lose certification once their current certificate expires.
We felt it was important that lapsed diplomates have a special pathway that allows them to regain their certification within a short timeframe (year 1), but also ensures they are satisfactorily meeting the requirements of Continuous Certification. Once registration opens for the new assessment, lapsed diplomates will need to submit information regarding their professional standing and CME activities; this is an entirely online process that can be completed within a few days. Most recently lapsed diplomates or diplomates with other ABS certificates will already have many of the items submitted.

Lapsed diplomates must also take and pass two extra assessments during the initial five-year period of the pathway (in years 2 and 4); however, once the five-year period is completed, they will take the assessment on the standard schedule of every other year.
Once a diplomate registers for an assessment, they are automatically enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. Diplomates who become certified for the first time in 2018 or later are automatically enrolled in the program. Assessment registration must be completed every year in which an assessment is due; program enrollment is ongoing and does not require any additional steps.