Details on enrolling
Once a diplomate registers for an assessment, they are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program.
Continuous Certification Assessment: Diplomates with general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery or surgical critical care certificates expiring this year may use the new assessment process to continue their certification.
As of 2018, diplomates who achieve initial certification through ABS are automatically enrolled in the new assessment process. These diplomates will begin taking the assessment two years after they became certified.
Diplomates who achieve initial certification in either general surgery, vascular surgery*, pediatric surgery or complex general surgical oncology will complete their first Continuous Certification Assessment two years after the academic year in which they become certified (for example, if certified in one of these specialties in the 2023-2024 academic year, you will take your first assessment in fall 2026).
Diplomates who achieve initial certification in surgical critical care will complete their first assessment two years after certification (for example, if certified in surgical critical care in September 2022, you will complete your first assessment in fall 2024).
*Note: Due to the COVID-related rescheduling of the 2020 and 2021 Vascular Surgery Certifying Exams, those who became certified in vascular surgery in either January or July 2021 will take their first Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment in fall 2023.
A special pathway to regain certification has been developed for all ABS specialties. See our lapsed certificate policy for more details.
Registration for all 2023 Continuous Certification Assessments will be available on August 1. The assessment will be available from Aug. 28-Nov. 6, 2023.
You will have up to two weeks to complete the assessment once you begin, with the opportunity to save your progress and continue at a later time during this two-week period. The last day to begin the assessment to ensure that you have the full two weeks is Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.
Please note: Your personal two-week time limit will start the moment you click the “Begin” button on the ABS portal – do not click it until you are absolutely sure that you are ready to begin your assessment.
For more information about preparing for and taking an assessment, please visit the respective specialty assessment page.
The preliminary score report that appears in your portal immediately after completing a Continuous Certification Assessment is provided as confirmation of completion until the assessment window closes for all candidates. Once the window closes, ABS psychometricians will review all results and validate all assessments. Final score reports, with detailed feedback, will be provided to diplomates in their portal within 4-6 weeks of the close of the examination window. Diplomate certification status, which reflects the final results of the assessment, will be available on the ABS website BEFORE December 31 of that year.
Once participating in the new assessment process, a diplomate's certification status will be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting the other program requirements. This new paradigm is intended to more accurately reflect the rapid changes in surgical knowledge and practice and better promote high-quality patient care.
However, failing the assessment in the year it is due will not immediately affect certification status. Diplomates in good standing will be able to retake the assessment the following year (grace year) if necessary.
We encourage diplomates to do their best on all assessment attempts.
Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program and are not up to date with all program requirements at the time of assessment registration will be unable to take the assessment until those requirements have been fulfilled.
Grace years are provided to diplomates who do not pass an assessment when it is due or if they are unsuccessful in their assessment attempt. For a diplomate to be eligible for a grace year:
Please note: Grace years are available for everyone in good standing and participating in the Continuous Certification Program. Diplomates who are currently in a grace year and do not pass the assessment will lose their certification. Diplomates who do not remit payment for their annual fee in the year that they are due to complete an assessment will not automatically receive a grace year in the following year and will lose their certification on Dec. 31 of that year. These diplomates will be listed as "Not Certified" until their outstanding balance has been paid. Following payment of an outstanding balance, the grace year will be reinstated along with a "Certified" certification status.
Regaining certification requires participating the lapsed pathway.
Diplomates participating in the lapsed pathway are not eligible for a grace year.
Once a diplomate enrolls in the program, an annual fee will be required. 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 in the ABS surgeon portal, and the modular assessment process, which requires hundreds of new questions with explanations and references each year, as well as an online delivery platform. The current annual fee is $285 and covers all general program participation, including one assessment every other year. Payments for Continuous Certification Program annual fees must be made online via credit card; checks are not accepted.
In order to continue meeting ABS certification requirements, you must be current with your annual fee payment. If you do not pay your annual fee in a given year, you will be subject to a late payment fee of $35 in the following year, and you will not be able to register for your next Continuous Certification Assessment until your outstanding balance has been paid.
If you do not pay your annual fee in the year that you are due to complete an assessment, you will not automatically receive a grace year in the following year and you will lose your certification on Dec. 31 of that year. You will be listed as "Not Certified" until your outstanding balance has been paid. Following payment of an outstanding balance, the grace year will be reinstated along with a "Certified" certification status.
Once diplomates pass the new assessment, the current Continuous Certification requirement of 150 Category 1 CME credits over five years, with at least 50 including self-assessment, will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required, beginning January 1 of the year following the first successful assessment attempt.
Upon passing the new assessment, diplomates will be issued a new certificate without an expiration date. A diplomate's current certification status will then be verified using the Check a Certification feature on the ABS website.