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ABS Statement Regarding August 1 Fellowship Start Date

November 7, 2014 Media Contact: Christine Shiffer, 215-568-4000

The American Board of Surgery has been concerned for a number of years about the difficulty general surgery residents face in transitioning from residency to fellowship. With roughly 80% of residents pursuing fellowship training after graduation, the tight turnaround from end of residency to start of fellowship can often cause problems in completing residency obligations or beginning fellowship training.

It is with this in mind that the ABS has engaged the surgical fellowship community regarding this issue. The solution of shifting the start of fellowship programs from July 1 to August 1 is already being implemented by many fellowship programs.

  • The ABS strongly endorses a fellowship start date of August 1 for the following reasons:
  • It allows residents to fully complete their final year of residency training. The issue of chief residents leaving their final year early is often a problem, forcing residents to use vacation time or other methods to meet the required 48 weeks per year of clinical training.
  • It provides residents with time to move locations and for new fellowship orientation activities, including skills "boot camps" if necessary.
  • It affords residents time to study for the General Surgery Qualifying Examination without being in training. To support the change in start date, we will be moving the General Surgery Qualifying Examination to July as of 2016: July 19, 2016. Residents would thus be able to complete this phase of the certification process before starting fellowship training.
  • It will ensure seasoned fellows are present in the hospital during July to provide coverage and supervision for new residents, potentially improving both patient care and the experience of incoming residents.
  • Feedback from residents regarding this change has been positive. While concerns have been raised regarding the loss of a month's salary and the need to arrange for health insurance coverage, it is felt that these are outweighed by the benefits of the later start date.
  • While recognizing that an August 1 start date may not be feasible in all circumstances, the ABS nevertheless hopes, given the reasons above, that fellowship programs will consider transitioning to a start date of August 1 whenever possible.
About the ABS
  • The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of surgical training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. They must then maintain their board certification through ongoing learning and practice improvement activities.
  • The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, hospice and palliative medicine, and complex general surgical oncology. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.