Becoming certified in surgical critical care

Surgical Critical Care

Exams Offered

Use the link below to learn more about the following examination in surgical critical care (SCC):

  • Successful completion of the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Exam is required for board certification in surgical critical care. The Certifying Exam is a 5-hour, multiple-choice examination held once a year on a single day at computer-testing centers across the U.S.
  • Applicants for certification in surgical critical care must be currently certified by the ABS in general surgery, in addition to completing the required training in SCC. The ABS will also accept applicants currently certified in vascular surgery who completed an integrated training program.
  • Applicants who are currently diplomates of other ABMS surgical boards may also apply, provided they completed the required training in SCC and their primary certifying board supports their application.

Examination While in Residency

  • Individuals may complete an ACGME-accredited SCC training program following 3 progressive years of ACGME-accredited residency training and take the SCC Certifying Exam while still in residency. A guaranteed categorical residency position must be available to the individual following completion of SCC training. The certificate in surgical critical care is not awarded, however, until the individual has achieved primary certification.

Examination While in Process of Obtaining Primary Certification

  • Individuals who have completed an ACGME-accredited residency training program may apply for and take the SCC Certifying Exam while in the process of obtaining primary certification. The certificate in surgical critical care will not be awarded until the individual has achieved primary certification.

7-Year Limit for Certification

Surgeons who complete a surgical critical care fellowship during the 2019-2020 academic year or thereafter will have 7 years following training to achieve certification in surgical critical care, i.e., become certified in surgery and pass the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Exam.

The 7-year period starts immediately upon completion of training. Once an application is approved, the applicant has a maximum of five opportunities in five consecutive years to take and pass the CE. Only one exam opportunity will be offered in each year of that five-year period.

You must attain certification in general surgery prior to being awarded your certificate in surgical critical care. If you are not successful in obtaining surgery certification within seven years of completing your surgical critical care training, your surgical critical care certificate will not be awarded.

See our exam admissibility policy for further details.

Pathway for ABEM Diplomates

The ABS has received approval to offer a pathway for diplomates of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) to obtain certification in surgical critical care. As these individuals will not have obtained substantial surgical experience during residency, ABEM diplomates will complete a preliminary year of general surgery or vascular surgery training prior to entering an SCC fellowship. See our ABEM Pathway page for further information.