The American Board of Surgery (ABS) is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 to provide board certification to individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. The ABS is one of 24 medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Surgeons certified by the ABS, known as diplomates, have completed at least five years of residency training following medical school, met all ABS training requirements, and successfully completed the ABS examination process. Once certified, ABS diplomates must complete continuing education and assessment activities in a process currently known as Continuous Certification in order to remain certified by the ABS.
Board certification by the ABS is a voluntary process that demonstrates a surgeon’s commitment to professionalism, lifelong learning, and quality patient care. The ABS offers board certification in surgery (general surgery), vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, and hand surgery.
The ABS considers certification to be voluntary and limits its responsibilities to what is identified in its mission and purpose statements. Its principal objective is to pass judgment on the education, training and knowledge of broadly qualified and responsible surgeons and not to designate who shall or shall not perform surgical operations.
It is not concerned with the attainment of special recognition in the practice of surgery. Furthermore, it is neither the intent nor the purpose of the board to define the requirements for membership on the staff of hospitals or institutions involved in the practice or teaching of surgery.
Directors are elected for a three-year term and council members and specialty board members are elected for a six-year term. They receive no remuneration for their service.
The Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE®) was formed in 2006 as a nonprofit consortium by the principal organizations involved in U.S. surgical education, with a mission is to improve the education of residents in general surgery and related specialties through the development of a national curriculum. In 2019, SCORE merged with the ABS.
The ABS recognizes the importance of diversity in the field of surgery and how diversity, equity and inclusion positively impacts health care access and patient outcomes. That’s why DEI is a key tenet of the organization’s mission.
Surgeon well-being is essential for high quality patient care and the health of our profession. However, burnout is common, with over 50% of surgeons reporting burnout symptoms. The ABS is committed to promoting surgeon well-being through a variety of programs and initiatives.
Outside of staff, the ABS is run primarily by volunteers. All directors, councilors and specialty board directors are volunteers and receive no remuneration for their extensive service to the organization. All ABS examinations are written and developed by item writer volunteers, and our oral examinations are given by examiner volunteers.
These volunteers dedicate countless hours to ABS projects, initiatives and examinations because they believe in the ABS mission. The ABS is always accepting applications for additional volunteers, so if you are a surgeon interested in getting involved with the ABS, we encourage you to complete our volunteer form.