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Update on New Direction for Continuous Certification

Nov. 3, 2017 Media Contact: Christine Shiffer, 215-568-4000

New program starting in 2018 to feature shorter, lower-stakes, open book assessments

  • The American Board of Surgery (ABS) would like to update our diplomates (ABS-certified surgeons) and others regarding our new direction for continuous certification, currently known as Maintenance of Certification (MOC), and in particular our efforts to create a new assessment program as an alternative to the traditional recertification exam.
Diplomate Survey
  • Following our announcement in July, a survey was sent to all ABS diplomates to gather feedback on possible alternatives to the 10-year exam. We thank all who responded for their input.

Nearly 10,000 diplomates responded (33%), telling us that they:

  • Prefer more frequent, lower-stakes, open book assessments to the current 10-year model (58%).
  • Prefer to complete the assessment no more frequently than every two years (67%).
  • Are strongly in favor of being tested on both core surgery concepts (86%) and practice-specific content (83%).
  • Using this feedback, we have begun to shape the new assessment program for general surgery that will be offered as of 2018.
New Program
  • The new program will feature shorter, lower-stakes, open book assessments required every two years, with immediate feedback. Diplomates will be able to take the assessment on their own computer, at a time and place of their choosing. There will be no need to travel to a testing center.
  • The general surgery assessments will have two sections. One section will cover core surgical principles common to all areas of surgery, and for the other, diplomates will select from a list of practice-related components. More component choices will be added as the program develops; we will also engage diplomates and surgical societies for their input.
Timeline for 2018 and Beyond
  • In 2018, diplomates with expiring certificates will be able to select the new assessment program to continue their general surgery certification. The traditional secure exam will also still be offered. (Note as of March 2018: Going forward, the traditional General Surgery Recertification Exam will no longer confer 10 years of certification. Diplomates who pass the 2018 exam will still be required to begin the new assessment process by 2020.)
  • Further details about the new program will be available by the end of first quarter 2018, with registration and assessments taking place during the latter half of the year. To register for the assessments or the secure exam, diplomates must be up to date on their MOC requirements and submit a 12-month operative log and references.
  • Other diplomates and specialties will be phased in. Assessments for other ABS specialties will be developed with a goal of providing a streamlined process for multiple certificate holders.
Refunds for 2017 Exam
  • Diplomates whose general surgery certification expires in 2018 or later and who have registered for the 2017 exam, but wish to wait until 2018 for the new assessment program, will be given a full refund if they notify the ABS office in writing by November 14, by sending an email to gsrecert@absurgery.org. Otherwise, fees will be forfeited.
  • Diplomates whose certification expires in 2017 will need to pass the 2017 exam to remain certified; certificates will not be extended.
Staying Informed
  • We encourage diplomates to keep their contact information updated to receive our future communications. In addition, ABS representatives will speak at many surgical society meetings this spring to provide updates in person — see our schedule.
  • The new assessment program is being designed to offer high-value, practice-relevant learning that supports diplomates in remaining up to date and integrating new knowledge into practice. We look forward to working with all of our diplomates as we strive to make MOC more convenient and beneficial while upholding the high standards of ABS certification.

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, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.