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ABS Receives Approval for Primary Certificate in Vascular Surgery

March 17, 2005 Media Contact: Christine Shiffer, 215-568-4000

In a landmark decision that will alter the landscape of surgical training and certification in the United States, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) received approval today from the American Board of Medical Specialties to offer a primary certificate in vascular surgery. This opens a new opportunity for vascular surgeons in the U.S. to become directly board-certified in vascular surgery without first becoming certified in general surgery, as is currently required. While five other ABMS member boards currently offer more than one primary certificate, the American Board of Surgery will be the first surgical board to do so.

The application for this new certificate was made by the ABS in partnership with the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), the leading specialty organization for vascular surgeons, and the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS). The ABS, SVS, and APDVS together recognized the need for a new paradigm in vascular surgery training and certification to better reflect the practice of vascular surgery today, in particular the rapid evolution of endovascular surgical techniques.

The ABS since 1982 has offered a certificate in vascular surgery that requires completion of a residency in general surgery followed by one to two years of specific training in vascular surgery. The new certificate will provide the flexibility to create new types of vascular surgery training programs, such as one consisting of three years of general surgery training followed by three years of vascular surgery training, leading directly to certification in vascular surgery.

Vascular surgeons will still have the option of certifying first in general surgery before entering vascular surgery training if they wish. These broader training options will give medical students and surgical residents more freedom of choice as they plan their training and career path, and is intended to enhance vascular surgery's attractiveness as a career option by providing greater flexibility in training. There are approximately 2,000 board-certified vascular surgeons currently practicing in the United States.

Projections of future need for vascular surgeons indicate a sharply rising demand during the next 20 years, to cope not only with present levels of vascular disease, but also to accommodate the rising incidence of vascular disease that will be present with the aging baby boomer population, the continuing epidemic of obesity, and the increasing incidence of diabetes. Approximately 100 vascular surgeons are currently trained and certified yearly; projections indicate this number will need to increase by at least 50%.

"With the development of vascular surgery as a distinct specialty in the U.S. during the last 50 years, and the increasing use of minimally invasive endovascular technologies, the ABS believes primary certification in vascular surgery responds to current and future public health needs and gives greater options to medical students and residents interested in a vascular surgery career," said Barbara Bass, current chair of the ABS.

About the ABS

The American Board of Surgery (ABS) is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying surgeons who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge. Surgeons certified by the ABS, known as diplomates, have completed a minimum of five years of surgical training and successfully completed a written and oral examination process. The ABS currently certifies surgeons in the following fields: general surgery, pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, surgical critical care, and surgery of the hand. The ABS is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.