It is expected that trainees meet all requirements listed below. If a trainee is unable to meet a specific requirement(s) due to COVID, requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Below is a general overview of the training requirements for general surgery certification. For complete details, please refer to the ABS Booklet of Information - Surgery (pdf).
- Applicants who will not complete residency training by June 30 of their chief year must notify the ABS. All training must be completed by end of August to be eligible for that year's General Surgery Qualifying Exam.
Program and Time Requirements
- A minimum of 5 years of progressive residency education satisfactorily completed in a general surgery program accredited by the ACGME or RCPSC. (See also Osteopathic Trainees Policy)
- The 60 months of training at no more than 3 residency programs. If credit is granted for prior foreign training, it will count as one program. See also Limit on Number of Programs and Credit for Foreign Medical Education.
- At least 48 weeks of full-time clinical activity in each residency year, regardless of the amount of operative experience obtained.
The 48 weeks may be averaged
over the first 3 years of residency, for a total of 144 weeks required, and over the last 2 years, for a total of 96 weeks required. See our Leave Policy
for further details; all time away from training must be accounted for on application form.
- A categorical PGY-3 year completed in an accredited general surgery residency program. Note that completing three years at PGY-1 and -2 levels does not permit promotion to PGY-4; a categorical PGY-3 year must be completed and verified by the ABS' resident roster. The only exception is in cases where 3 years' credit has been granted for prior foreign graduate training.
- At least 54 months of clinical surgical experience with increasing levels of responsibility over the 5 years, with no fewer than 42 months devoted to the content areas of general surgery.
- No more than 6 months assigned to non-clinical or non-surgical disciplines during all junior years (PGY 1-3).
- No more than 12 months allocated to any one surgical specialty other than general surgery during all junior years (PGY 1-3).
- The final two residency years (PGY 4-5) in the same program.
Note: Applicants who have been affected by the closure of FLS and FES testing centers may apply for and take the general surgery QE and/or the general surgery Certifying Examination (CE) without these certifications. You will not be considered certified in Surgery by the ABS until documentation of certification in these courses are provided to the ABS.
Chief Resident Year
The following operative requirements are effective with applicants graduating residency in the 2017-2018 academic year. The previous operative case numbers are noted in parenthesis applicants who graduated before the 2017-2018 year will be required to meet those numbers.
- At least 850 (previously 750) operative procedures as surgeon over 5 years, with at least 200 (previously 150) in the chief resident year. Teaching assistant cases may count toward the 850 total; however these cases may not count toward the 200 chief year cases.
- At least 40 (previously 25) cases in surgical critical care, with at least one in each of the seven categories: ventilatory management; bleeding (non-trauma); hemodynamic instability; organ dysfunction/failure; dysrhythmias; invasive line management and monitoring; and parenteral/enteral nutrition.
- At least 25 cases as teaching assistant by the completion of residency.
At least 250 operations by the beginning of PGY-3 year, effective with applicants who began residency in July 2014. The 250 cases can include procedures performed as operating surgeon or first assistant. Of the 250, at least 200 must be either in the defined categories, endoscopies, or e-codes (see below for info on e-codes). Up to 50 non-defined cases may be applied to this requirement.
E-Codes: General surgery residents can use e-codes to receive ACGME case log credit for vascular surgical procedures. E-codes allow more than one resident to take credit for an arterial exposure and repair. The resident who accomplishes the exposure should add an "E" to the case ID for the system to allow credit for a second procedure on the same patient. The relevant CPT codes to use are: 35201 (Repair blood vessel, direct; neck); 35206 (upper extremity); 35216 (intra-thoracic without bypass); 35221 (intra-abdominal), and 35226 (lower extremity). Four categories are available under Trauma for residents to enter arterial exposures.
For specific inquiries regarding ABS training requirements, please send an email to the ABS coordinator.