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Subspecialty Certification in Neurocritical Care

Subspecialty Certification in Neurocritical Care

  • Successful completion of the neurocritical care (NCC) subspecialty certification exam is required for board certification in NCC. Eligible candidates are surgical critical care diplomates (SCC) who are primarily engaged in the practice of NCC.
  • ABS has partnered with the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) to provide a pathway to certification in NCC for ABS diplomates currently certified in surgical critical care (SCC). ABA has generously agreed to provide access to this certificate, and once certification is achieved through one of the available pathways, SCC candidates will be holders of an ABA certificate. As such, all polices around exam eligibility and maintaining certification will be made by the ABA. Please see the ABA website for their current policies regarding this examination, which will be administered every odd-numbered year.
  • During a six-year "legacy" or practice pathway period, eligible SCC diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in NCC by the UCNS or CAST, have completed a fellowship in NCC, or have documented a certain amount of post-training clinical practice specifically related to NCC. Please see "Available Pathways" below for more information.
  • Certification in NCC is offered in conjunction with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Neurological Surgery. An applicant may pursue the certification process through only one certifying board.
    Next Exam: October 4-8, 2021
    Application Deadline: April 1, 2021
    If you meet the requirements for this certification as defined below, please contact us to request access to the online application.

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Certification/Continuous Certification: Be currently certified in SCC by the American Board of Surgery and in compliance with the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
  • "Legacy"/Practice Pathway: Have fulfilled either the "legacy" pathway or the practice pathway as defined below.
  • NCC Experience: Attest to your current privileges and clinical activity in NCC (practicing it, on average, at least one day per week during 12 consecutive months over the previous three years).
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of NCC as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in another recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.
  • Be capable of performing independently the entire scope of the NCC practice without accommodation or with reasonable accommodation.
  • Adhere to the ABS Ethics and Professionalism Policy.

Available Pathways

Both of the pathways listed below will be available for six years, from 2021-2026. Please see the ABA website for their policies regarding this examination, which will be administered every odd-numbered year.

"Legacy" Pathway

During the six-year "legacy" pathway period, eligible diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in neurocritical care by the UCNS or CAST, or if they have completed a UCNS, CAST, or other non-accredited fellowship in neurocritical care.

Practice Pathway

During the six-year practice pathway period, eligible diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they have documented one of the following:

  • An average of at least 17% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of NCC (at least seven hours per week) for the past six years,* or
  • An average of at least 25% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of NCC (at least 10 hours per week) for the past four years,* or
  • An average of at least 33% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of NCC (at least 13 hours per week) for the past three years,* or
  • An average of at least 50% of their post-training clinical practice time spent in the practice of NCC (at least 20 hours per week) for the past two years,* or
  • An average of at least 25% of their total post-training professional time spent in the practice of NCC (at least 10 hours per week) for the past four years.**

* This calculation is based on an average work week of 40 hours. Physicians whose total practice exceeds 40 hours per week may still use the 40 hours number as the denominator of their percentage calculation.

** This approach specifically applies to academic program directors, administrators, or researchers, and provides them a pathway to qualification.

Post "Legacy"/Practice Pathway Period

After the six-year "legacy" or practice pathway period (2027 and beyond), all candidates who register for the NCC exam must meet the general requirements listed above, and must have completed one of the following training pathways:

  • One year of general ACGME-accredited SCC fellowship AND one year of an ACGME-accredited NCC fellowship, or
  • Two years of an ACGME-accredited NCC fellowship

How to Apply

If you meet the requirements for this certification as defined above, please contact us to request access to the online application. Please note that the NCC certification exam will be administered through the ABA every odd-numbered year.

Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as early as possible. If you do not complete the application process, any materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year.

Items Required
  1. Contact us to request access to the online application form.
  2. Once you receive access to the online application form, complete and submit this form through your ABS portal.
  3. Submit the application fee online ($500; credit card only).
  4. Mail the following supporting documentation IN ONE PACKET to the ABS office on or before April 1, 2021:
  • A letter from either:
    - your institution, confirming full surgical privileges in NCC at an accredited health care institution, or
    - your program director, confirming your current fellowship status in another recognized surgical specialty.

  • Three (3) reference letters attesting to your NCC practice and experience from:
    - your chief of neurology or neurosurgery,
    - your chief of surgery, and
    - a peer in NCC.

Reference letters should be sealed by the physician completing the reference, with the back of the envelope signed by the referring physician before it is given to you.

Materials must be submitted by April 1, 2021 to the following address to be considered for this year's examination:

The American Board of Surgery
1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 860
Philadelphia, PA 19103

All steps above must be completed by the deadline to be considered for this year's examination in NCC to be administered by the ABA.

Following approval of your application, you will be contacted by the ABA to complete registration, submit payment for the examination, and schedule a testing center date and location.

Maintaining Certification


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