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Surgical Critical Care

Surgical Critical Care

Surgeons may enter the ABS certification process for surgical critical care following successful completion of an ACGME-accredited surgical critical care training program, either before or after obtaining initial certification in general surgery.


Specialty of surgical critical care defined

Surgical critical care is a specialty which cares for patients of all ages with acute, life-threatening, or potentially life-threatening surgical conditions. Surgical critical care not only incorporates knowledge and skills of nonoperative techniques for supportive care of critically ill patients but also a broad understanding of the relationship between critical surgical illness and surgical procedures. Although much of the core knowledge of surgical critical care is similar to other critical care specialties, the diplomate in surgical critical care has additional specialized expertise relating to the physiologic responses to trauma, burns, and inflammation, while recognizing comorbidities and complications unique to patients with surgical disease and how these responses interact with other disease processes.

Specialists in surgical critical care provide comprehensive care to critically ill patients from all surgical specialties and all age groups. The care of such patients involves a broad skill set and an understanding of surgery and associated conditions and complications. The specialist in surgical critical care has expertise in the biology of critical illness and the support of organ system function. They should provide leadership within their health care organizations regarding the needs of critically ill surgical patients and the administration of critical care units. They are also vested in teaching and conducting research in the field.

Certification Requirements

Critical care surgeons must meet specific requirements before they are deemed certified by the ABS

To become certified by the ABS, a critical care surgeon must first meet the training requirements and related criteria in order to enter the initial certification examination process for surgical critical care (SCC).

Primary certification in surgery is a requirement for certification in SCC.

Examination While in Residency
Individuals may complete an ACGME-accredited SCC training program following three (3) progressive years of ACGME-accredited residency training and take the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Exam (SCC CE) while still in residency. A guaranteed categorical residency position must be available to the individual following completion of SCC training. The certificate in SCC is not awarded, however, until the individual has achieved primary certification in surgery.

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 CE while in the process of obtaining primary certification. The certificate in SCC will not be awarded until the individual has achieved primary certification.

Pathway for ABEM Diplomates

Diplomates certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine may be eligible for certification in surgical critical care

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


Policies related to initial certification in surgical critical care

Candidates will be expected to be aware of and abide by all policies related to initial certification in surgical critical care throughout the certification process.