Hand Surgery Recertification Exam
The Hand Surgery Recertification Examination is offered annually over a 2-week window by the ABS in conjunction with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery through Prometric testing services (www.prometric.com/hse). A diplomate may enter the exam process only through one certifying board and may not apply to a different board for additional exam opportunities.
- The exam consists of approximately 175 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment. It lasts approximately four hours and is administered in four 60-minute sessions, with 15 minutes of total break time allotted for use between sessions. See also the exam content outline (pdf).
- The exam is developed each year by active surgeons in community and academic practice. Results are posted approximately 10 to 12 weeks after the exam; you will be notified by email when they are available.
When to Take Exam
- Diplomates are eligible to take a recertification exam starting 3 years before their certificate's expiration; this includes the final year of certificate validity. Surgeons who no longer operate may still register for the exam. Surgeons with lapsed certificates should refer to our Lapsed Certificate Policy. Surgeons on active military duty who may encounter difficulty taking the exam should notify the ABS as soon as possible.
To be eligible for this exam, diplomates must:
- Certification Status: Be certified by the ABS in hand surgery and meeting the requirements of Continuous Certification. Certification may not be revoked. Current certification in general surgery is not required. Diplomates not meeting requirements cannot register for the exam until re-entry requirements are met.
- Professional Activity: Be in the active practice of hand surgery. If diplomates are providing care to hospitalized patients, they must hold practice privileges at an accredited health care institution.
- Professional References: Receive satisfactory references from the chair of surgery and chair of credentials at the institution where the majority of work is performed. If necessary, another physician of comparable rank may be used.
- Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Diplomates are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
- Adhere to the ABS policy on Ethics and Professionalism.
- The online registration process is posted each year in spring you will be notified when the registration process is available. Please see How to Register for details on what's required.
- Diplomates who register for multiple recertification exams within a five-year period do not need to submit most materials twice; however fees must be submitted for each exam.
- Once your application is approved, you will be granted a maximum of 3 opportunities within a 5-year period to pass the examination. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute. The 5-year exam admissibility period is independent of your certificate's expiration date.
- During the five-year admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year regarding the next exam. A new application is not necessary.
- Readmissibility: Diplomates who exhaust this five-year period may re-apply for the exam, meeting all current application requirements. See our Lapsed Certificate Policy for additional details.
- Upon passing the exam, the ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward Continuous Certification; the waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository.
- Surgeons who achieve ABS recertification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.
For additional information, please send an email to the exam coordinator.