Surgical Critical Care Recertification Exam

Important Message Regarding 2018 Exam
As part of Continuous Certification, a new 40-question, online, open-book assessment will available as of 2019 for surgical critical care. More details about the assessment will be available later this year.
Diplomates with SCC certificates expiring in 2018 will need to pass the recertification exam (Online Registration) to continue their certification; certificates will not be extended. However, as the new assessment is not yet available, upon passing the 2018 exam, they will receive a certificate valid for 10 years. They will still need to meet the other requirements of Continuous Certification.
All other SCC diplomates are encouraged to wait until the new assessment is available; they will not be offered a 10-year certificate. If they opt to take the 2018 exam, upon passing they will still be required to enter the new assessment process by 2020.
  • The Surgical Critical Care Recertification Examination is offered annually over a 2-week window. It consists of approximately 200 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment in surgical critical care. See also the exam's content outline (pdf).
  • The exam lasts about 5 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. The exam is administered in three 90-minute sessions, with optional 10-minute breaks between sessions. Once a session has concluded, you will not be able to revisit those questions.
  • Results are posted approximately 4 to 8 weeks after the exam; you will be notified by email when they are available. The exam's contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.

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.

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, diplomates must:

  • Certification Status: Be certified by the ABS in surgical critical care 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 and/or teaching and/or research and/or administrative activities relevant to surgical critical care. If diplomates are providing care to hospitalized patients, they must hold practice privileges at an accredited health care institution. If diplomates no longer hold privileges, they must provide an explanation when updating their practice information.
  • Case Log: Submit an operative experience report every 10 years (in any ABS specialty). For SCC, this would be a report of critical care experience that documents management of 25 consecutive patients just prior to the time of application. Note: Diplomates who no longer operate will provide instead information about their current activities.
  • Professional References: Receive satisfactory references every five years 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 Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Registration Process

  • The online registration process is posted each year in spring — please see How to Register for more on what's required, deadlines and fees, and exam accommodations. Eligible diplomates will be notified when registration opens.
  • Once your registration has been approved, an exam admission authorization letter will be posted on your exam registration page within 24-48 hours. The letter will contain instructions on reserving a place at a computer-testing center. You must have this letter to reserve a testing center spot.
  • 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.

CME Waiver/Credit

  • 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 specific inquiries, please send an email to the exam coordinator.