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Program Requirements - Continuous Certification

  • Diplomates must be up to date on the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certification. For diplomates with multiple ABS certificates, the exam/assessment is the only requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.
  • Surgeons who are clinically inactive or no longer operating may still participate in Continuous Certification.

When to Report

  • Diplomates should maintain their Continuous Certification information on an ongoing basis. Most items listed below should be updated no less than every five years. Check your status anytime at My Continuous Certification to view when items are due and submit any necessary information.
  • Note: The online reference forms and operative report will not be available for most diplomates until later this spring. We will continue to develop the status profile page to assist diplomates in staying up to date.

Requirements

Professional Responsibility
  • Medical License
    Valid, full and unrestricted (U.S. or Canada). Diplomates must immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Hospital/Surgical Center Privileges
    If clinically active. If you are clinically inactive or do not otherwise hold privileges, you will be asked to provide an explanation when updating your Continuous Certification profile.
  • Professional References
    Two reference forms submitted every five years. In most cases, one should be completed by the chair of surgery and the other by the chair of credentials at the institution where you perform most of your work. If necessary, a physician(s) of comparable rank may complete the form. If you are clinically inactive, two physicians familiar with your current activities should complete the form.
  • Practice Improvement
    Ongoing participation in a local, regional or national outcomes registry or quality assessment program, either individually or through your institution. You will describe how you are meeting this requirement — no patient data is collected. See Practice Improvement for more details and resources.
Education and Assessment
  • CME and Self-Assessment
    150 credits of Category 1 CME relevant to your practice over five years, of which at least 50 must include self-assessment — a question-and-answer exercise that assesses your understanding of the material in the CME program. A score of 75% or higher must be required.

    This requirement will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required when diplomates pass their first new general surgery assessment (see below); the ABS will also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment for passing a certifying or secure recertification exam. See our CME page for more details and resources.
  • Recertification Exam or New Assessment Program
    Successful completion of a recertification exam or new assessment prior to certificate expiration. A new assessment process is being introduced in 2018 for general surgery, and in 2019 for vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, and surgical critical care to replace the recertification exam.

    For diplomates who hold multiple ABS certificates, this is the only requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.

    To register for an exam or the new assessment, you must have submitted a 12-month operative experience report within the past 10 years (in any ABS specialty), with case numbers from the institution where you perform most of your work. For new diplomates, your previously submitted training log meets this requirement. If you do not have cases to report, you will be able to provide an explanation. Diplomates may also transfer case numbers from the ACS Surgeon Specific Registry to the report.

Audit and Re-entry

  • While updating the above items is an entirely online process, the ABS audits a percentage of forms each year. If audited, you will be asked to furnish documentation of the information you provided, including CME activities. No patient data is collected.
  • Diplomates who do not reply to an audit, or who otherwise do not meet Continuous Certification requirements, will not be eligible to take an ABS examination or the new assessment. See our re-entry policy for details on how to re-enter Continuous Certification.

Other Situations

  • Fellowships: 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.). Details about the fellowship must be provided as part of your Continuous Certification profile.

  • Diplomates Certified by Other ABMS boards or RCPSC: These diplomates must still report to the ABS about their activities; however, 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.

    The RCPSC has recognized ABS Continuous Certification as equivalent to its program. ABS diplomates who belong to the RCPSC may use the ABS program to maintain their RCPSC membership.

  • Clinically Inactive: Diplomates who no longer see patients may still participate in Continuous Certification — see Clinically Inactive Policy. Diplomates who still see patients but no longer operate may participate by fulfilling the requirements in ways relevant to their current activities.

Refer also to our Video & PDF Overview, as well as New Assessment FAQs and Continuous Certification Program FAQs. For specific inquiries, please contact the Continuous Certification coordinator.

 

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