As part of Continuous Certification, the ABS requires 150 credits of Category 1 CME over five years. The CME must be relevant to your practice, or if clinically inactive, to the broad discipline of surgery.
Category 1 CME activities are formal educational experiences accredited by the AMA, ACCME, RCPSC or EACCME. These may include seminars, conferences, grand rounds, webinars, podcasts, skills courses and departmental scientific meetings.
CME courses completed for state licensing requirements and on topics such as ethics, patient safety, surgeon leadership, etc., are accepted. Diplomates who hold multiple ABS certificates do not have to repeat the CME requirement for each certificate.
The ABS expects that each CME credit corresponds to one hour of time spent on the activity. Therefore, the ABS will generally not accept more than 12 credits of CME earned in a single day.
In addition, at least 50 of the 150 CME credits must include self-assessment: a question-and-answer exercise that assesses your understanding of the material presented in the CME program.
The activity must require a score of 75% or higher for the self-assessment to count. There is no required minimum number of questions and repeated attempts are allowed.
Many live CME events, such as grand rounds and conferences, require a post-test before credit is awarded. CME activities from journals, textbooks, and web-based programs also usually contain self-assessment. Audience response systems are also acceptable if they provide individual scores.
There is no ABS approval process for self-assessment activities. Hospitals, societies and other organizations may develop programs per the ABS criteria above. Programs that meet ABS requirements may state that they provide CME and self-assessment credit toward the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
Waiving of CME
The requirement above will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required once diplomates pass the new assessment (see New Assessment Enrollment).
The ABS will also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment for new diplomates who pass an initial certifying exam. A waiver for 60 credits will appear in your CME Repository.
If you achieved initial certification by another ABMS board, you may also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment. The 60 credits must be entered by you into your CME Repository. If requested, you would need to provide a photocopy of your certificate or similar documentation.
Diplomates in a fellowship are also exempt from the CME/self-assessment requirement during their time in training. The fellowship must be at least 12 months (and no more than 2 years) in duration and accredited by the ACGME or an organization with a formal accreditation process (e.g., ASTS, ACS, Fellowship Council, etc.). CME and self-assessments credits will be prorated based on the remaining time in the five-year period.
ABS's collaboration with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) streamlines the process through which diplomates monitor and report their CME credits in order to fulfill ABS Continuous Certification (CC) Program requirements.
When you register for an accredited CME activity, ask the CME provider if they will report your participation to ACCME. You will need to give the CME provider your first name, last name and month and day of birth. Once you complete an activity, the CME provider will collect and submit your credit information to ABS. These credits will automatically appear in your ABS CME repository - no transfer or manual entry needed. In order for this process to work, you must give the CME provider permission to share your learner data with ABS. Providers may ask for your ABS Candidate ID# when you register for the activity, which can be found in the blue bar at the top of the page when you log in to your ABS portal, as well as on your "Exam Records and Results" page. For more information on this process, see our process overview, collaboration announcement and CME FAQs.
Visit ACCME's CME Finder to search the list of accredited CME activities that towards ABS Continuous Certification and ongoing certification requirements.
If the CME organization doesn’t know how to report your credit, you can direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the staff at ACCME will help them get their activity registered and show them how to report your CME credit.
Note that it will take some time for CME organizations to register their activities with ACCME and begin collecting and reporting your CME credit. In the meantime, you can continue to self-report your credit earned through accredited CME organizations using the manual submission method listed below. You should not self-report credit that you have already asked the CME organizations to report on your behalf.
Diplomates who are members of the ACS or ASMBS may directly transfer CME credits from their society repository into the ABS repository. When transferring credits, be sure to make note of the authorization code listed in your ABS portal - you will need this code to make the transfer.
Diplomates may also add CME credit to their ABS repository manually. When adding credit manually, you will be asked to include the date the activity was completed, how many credits you earned, who the educational provider for the activity was, what organization accredited the activity, and a brief description of the activity that was completed. Diplomates may not manually add CME credits that were transferred to their repository previously using one of the two methods listed above. If you are found to have duplicate activities listed in your repository, you may face disciplinary action.
No documentation is required at the time when CME credits are logged by a diplomate in their portal using one of the above methods. However, please note that the ABS audits a percentage of diplomates each year. If you are selected for audit, you will need to supply documentation of CME.
Diplomates who pass an ABS Continuous Certification Assessment may also apply to the AMA to receive 12 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. The AMA will also grant credit for teaching at a live CME activity, being first author on a published article, and obtaining a medically-related advanced degree. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.
Some available resources for CME with self-assessment:*
* The ABS posts these links as a service to diplomates; it assumes no responsibility for the content of these programs. Posting of links is at the discretion of the ABS. For a CME activity to be posted on this page, it must be: (1) sponsored by a nonprofit organization; (2) national in scope; (3) contain content applicable to ABS diplomates; (4) meet the ABS' definition of self-assessment; (5) be an enduring, ongoing program.