Get Certified

Individuals who have met all ABS training requirements may begin the board certification process by applying for admission to the required examinations for their specialty area.

To see if your surgeon has already achieved board certification, use the “Check a Certification” tool.

Why become certified

ABS certification sets surgeons apart from their peers

Achieving ABS certification demonstrates that a surgeon has met a set of rigorous standards and has the clinical judgment and skills that are essential for the delivery of high-quality patient care.

colleagues in close discussion

Certifications Offered by the ABS

Two primary and four specialty certifications are available

The ABS offers primary board certification in surgery (general surgery) and vascular surgery, and secondary certification in pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, and hand surgery. Approximately 34,000 surgeons are currently board certified by the ABS.

Becoming Certified

The process through which surgeons achieve initial certification in their chosen specialty area

Required Education/Training

All training completed following medical school must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the U.S., or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).

Examination Application

Candidates must apply to the first exam in their specialty’s initial certification process immediately after training to receive the full number of exam opportunities.

Qualifying Examination

Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam (QE), or written exam, is the first step in the initial certification process for most ABS specialties*.

Certifying Examination

Following successful completion of the QE, the second and final step in the initial certification process for most ABS specialties* is the Certifying Exam (CE), or oral exam.

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Continuous Certification

Once a surgeon has achieved ABS certification, they must participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certification.

*Some specialties require both a Qualifying Exam and a Certifying Exam to achieve board certification. For others, only a Certifying Exam is required. If both a Qualifying Exam and Certifying Exam are required, the Qualifying Exam is a multiple-choice examination, and the Certifying Exam is an oral examination. If only a Certifying Exam is required, then it is a multiple-choice examination.

Examination Admissiblity

Seven-year limit to certification

Surgeons have no more than seven (7) academic years following training to achieve certification in any ABS specialty. The seven-year period starts immediately upon completion of training. Only one exam opportunity will be offered in each year of the seven-year period. If you delay in applying, or do not apply in a given year, you will lose opportunities. 

All of the stated time limits for examinations are absolute; exceptions will only be made for active duty military service outside the U.S. Candidates who have exhausted their admissibility period should contact the exam coordinator regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

Exam Dates & Fees

Upcoming examination dates, application deadlines, and related fees

2/23 - 2/24
2024
In-Training Examination (VSITE)
Location: Proctored at program
Fee: $220 per exam
Registration Deadline: 1/5/2024

Any order changes submitted after the 1/5/24 deadline will incur a $300 fee per change.

3/4 - 3/6
2024
Pediatric Surgery Certifying Examination
Location: Virtual
Fee: $1,700

Registration available following the release of 2023 PSQE results.

3/13 - 3/20
2024
General Surgery Certifying Examination
Location: Virtual
Fee: $1,500
Registration Deadline: 9/1/2023

Registration available following the release of 2023 GSQE results.

3/15 - 5/15
2024
General Surgery QE/CE Readmissibility
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: TBD
Application Deadline: 2/1/2024
Fee: $450
3/26 - 4/6
2024
Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Focused Practice Designation Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $750
Application Deadline: 4/1/2024
Fee: $550
5/13 - 5/15
2024
Vascular Surgery Certifying Examination
Location: Virtual
Fee: $1,700

Registration available following the release of 2023 VSQE results.

medical students walking together on street
Continuous Certification

Documenting a surgeon's ongoing commitment to professionalism, lifelong learning, and practice improvement following initial board certification

Once a surgeon successfully completes the examination process for their specialty area, they are deemed certified by the ABS in that surgical specialty and will receive their official certificate within six months. Following initial certification, they must participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certification.

CME Credit

Diplomates are required to earn a specific amount of Category-1 CME over a five-year period

After achieving initial certification by the ABS or by another ABMS member board, the ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward ABS Continuous Certification Program requirements. In addition, surgeons who achieve ABS certification may apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. 

women surgeon wearing medical gloves
International Applications

Information for surgeons who trained outside of the U.S.

Surgeons who have completed some or all of their surgical training outside of the U.S. or Canada and wish to become certified by the ABS must first enroll and complete training at an accredited U.S. or Canadian residency program. Surgeons who have completed all of their training in Canada may apply for ABS certification upon completion of a residency program accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), if they have met all requirements of ABS certification.

Promoting Your ABS Certification
Upon request, the ABS provides custom brochures for diplomates to display in their offices

Contact Us

Please use the form below to contact the appropriate department. They will respond as soon as possible.