Get Certified

Surgical Critical Care

Certifying Examination

The Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination is offered annually as the single exam required for board certification in surgical critical care.


About the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination

The Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination (SCC CE) is offered annually to achieve board certification in surgical critical care (SCC). The exam consists of about 200 multiple-choice questions, lasting approximately five hours, designed to assess a surgeon’s cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment in SCC.

The exam is administered in three 90-minute sessions, with optional breaks after sessions one and two. Once a session has concluded, candidates are not able to revisit those questions.

Results are posted approximately four to eight weeks after the exam; candidates will be notified by email when they are available. The exam’s contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.

When Can I Take My Exam?

Seven-year limit to certification, five-year limit to the SCC CE

The admissibility period for the SCC CE begins immediately upon completion of training.

  • Candidates will have no more than seven academic years following completion of their SCC fellowship to complete the certification process (i.e., pass the CE).
  • The seven-year period begins immediately upon completion of fellowship training.
  • Upon application approval, applicants will be granted up to five opportunities within five consecutive years to pass the SCC CE.

This exam is offered only once per academic year. During the exam admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year regarding the next exam; a new application is not necessary.

The above limits are absolute. Individuals who exceed any of the above restrictions will lose their admissibility and must contact the ABS regarding the readmissibility requirements in effect at that time.

9/3 - 9/17
Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,725
Application Deadline: 7/15/2024
Fee: $550
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.

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 surgical critical care will not be awarded until the individual has achieved primary certification.

Exam Requirements

Candidates must be meeting all requirements at the time of application to the SCC CE

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must have satisfactorily completed a one-year training program in SCC or anesthesiology critical care accredited by the ACGME. The ABS will also accept completion of a two-year training program in adult critical care medicine accredited by the RCPSC.

In addition, candidates must be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of SCC as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in another recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.

Medical License Requirement

A full and unrestricted license not required to apply for the SCC CE for applicants who are residents or who are in the process of obtaining primary certification. A full and unrestricted medical license is required for all applicants who are certified in their primary specialty.

Applying for the Certifying Exam – ABS Candidates

Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible

The application process for the SCC CE is posted each year in the spring. Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.

Candidates who need testing accommodations at the center must submit a request at the time of application, per our Examination Accommodations and Examination of Persons with Disabilities policies.

Once the online application process is available, applicants are required to submit the following items:

This form covers information regarding the applicant’s undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate medical education.

Review, sign and date the attestation online. Approval of the application is contingent upon approval by the applicant’s program director, who will be contacted separately.

Note: To avoid the late fee, the signature form must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. ET on the deadline date.

Applicants still in residency must also provide a letter from their residency program director attesting that they have satisfactorily completed three progressive years of general surgery or integrated vascular surgery residency and that they have a guaranteed categorical residency position available for the applicant upon completion of SCC training. These applicants must email this letter from to the exam coordinator.

Reports uploaded prior to meeting the required cases numbers will be deleted and a note regarding its deficiencies will be posted to the applicant’s portal.  Applicants are responsible for monitoring their portal and uploading the report meeting all case requirements.

If applicant is completing an ACGME-accredited fellowship: Applicants must upload a copy of their ACGME Surgical Critical Care Defined Category and Minimum report (preferred). ABS will also accept an ACGME Critical Care Patient Report if the report by category is not available (must allow for additional processing time). These are the ONLY reports that will be accepted. Other types of documentation, even if they contain similar information, will be rejected upon review.

The report must include a minimum of 200 total critical care patients managed and must meet the required minimums for each category. Please see the ACGME Case Minimum Requirements: Surgical Critical Care (pdf) for details on each category and number of cases required. Patients may fit into multiple categories and may be counted more than once. Patients who die and meet these criteria should be included; there is no limit on the number of deaths reported.

All other applicants: Complete and submit the ABS report of critical care experience via the ABS website. All case number requirements must be met.

For each patient, you will provide the patient ID and select the applicable categories:

Categories: Advanced Mechanical Ventilation; Airway Management – Intubation; Airway Management – Bronchoscopy; Shock Management; Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy; Dysrhythmia Management; Neurologic Management; Hepatic Failure Management; Noninvasive Cardiac Output Monitoring; Nutrition; Gastrointestinal Disorders; Infection; Miscellaneous Procedures*; Injury; Endocrine Disorders; Organ Failure; End-of-Life Care

* Miscellaneous Procedures includes central venous catheter placement, tube thoracostomy, thoracentesis, paracentesis, diagnostic peritoneal lavage, fasciotomy, escharotomy and proficiency in management of procedural complications.

Submit the nonrefundable credit card payment (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) where indicated; a completed application form must be submitted first. A separate exam fee will also be required once the application is approved.

Note: The total application fee due will be based on when the application fee is paid. To avoid the late fee, payment of the application fee must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. ET on the deadline date.

Application Approval

Once all materials are received, the application will be reviewed by ABS staff. Applicants will be notified via email when their application has been approved and will receive instructions on how to register for the exam. All applicants are responsible for monitoring their application status via their portal to see whether items are missing or incorrect. Applicants should check the status of their application in the ABS portal periodically, as well as keep their contact information current.

After registering, applicants will be able to schedule their test center with Pearson VUE. Be advised that testing centers have limited capacity, are subject to social distancing requirements, and may fill up well before the exam date, particularly in urban areas. Applicants should contact Pearson VUE as soon as the admission letter is posted to their portal page to reserve space at a local testing center. Delays in scheduling will likely require applicants to travel outside of their geographical area in order to schedule the exam.

If the application process is not complete, materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year.

Exam Irregularities, Results, and Continuous Certification

Results are typically available four weeks after the exam​​

If a candidate experiences an irregularity during their examination, they must notify the exam manager IMMEDIATELY BUT NO LATER THAN ONE (1) BUSINESS DAY following the exam. Requests received after that time will not be considered.

Results are posted approximately four weeks after the exam; candidates will be notified by email when they are available. Exam results will not be reported over the telephone.

Individuals who were unsuccessful on the exam and have opportunities remaining will be contacted the following year when registration is available for the next exam.

Continuous Certification

Following certification, diplomates must participate in the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certificate. The ABS will waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward Continuous Certification for this certification; the waiver will appear automatically in diplomates’ CME Repository.

Surgeons who achieve ABS certification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application for details.


Our exam managers are here to help.

Most questions can be answered with the information available on our website. For specific inquiries, please contact the surgical critical care exam manager.

Contact a Coordinator

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