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Surgical Critical Care

Neurocritical Care

Diplomates who are certified in surgical critical care by the ABS may be eligible for the neurocritical care subspecialty certification, offered through the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA).


Subspecialty certification in neurocritical care

Previously, we announced that the NCC subspecialty certification exam, which is administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, would be offered every odd-numbered year. This exam will now instead be offered every even-numbered year. The next administration of this exam will be fall 2024. Applications for this examination will be available by midnight on Mar. 8, 2024.

Successful completion of the neurocritical care (NCC) subspecialty certification exam is required for board certification in NCC. Eligible candidates are ABS diplomates certified in surgical critical care (SCC) and are primarily engaged in the practice of NCC.

The ABS has partnered with the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) to provide a pathway to certification in NCC for ABS diplomates currently certified in SCC. The ABA has generously agreed to provide access to this certificate, and once certification is achieved through one of the available pathways, SCC diplomates will be holders of an ABA certificate. As such, all policies around exam eligibility and maintaining certification will be made by the ABA. Please see the ABA website for their current policies regarding this examination, which will be administered every even-numbered year.

During a six-year “legacy” or practice pathway period, eligible SCC diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in NCC by the UCNS or CAST, have completed a fellowship in NCC, or have documented a certain amount of post-training clinical practice specifically related to NCC. Please see Available Pathways below for more information.

Certification in NCC is offered in conjunction with the ABA, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPNS), the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), and the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS). An applicant may pursue the certification process through only one certifying board.

10/7 - 10/11
Neurocritical Care Subspecialty Examination
Fee: TBD
Application Deadline: 4/1/2024
Fee: $550

Following application approval, candidates will receive information from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) regarding exam registration.

9/3 - 9/17
Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,725
Application Deadline: 7/22/2024
Fee: $550

General Requirements

Surgeons must meet specific requirements before they are deemed certified in neurocritical care

Applicants to the NCC examination must be capable of performing independently the entire scope of the NCC practice without accommodation or with reasonable accommodation. 

Additionally, to be eligible for this exam, applicants must meet the following requirements:

NCC Experience
Attest to current privileges and clinical activity in NCC (practicing it, on average, at least one day per week during 12 consecutive months over the previous three years).
Medical License
Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Applicants are required to inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
Professional Activity
Be actively and primarily engaged in the practice of NCC 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.

Available Pathways

Both pathways available until 2026

Both the “Legacy” Pathway and Practice Pathway will be available for six years, from 2021-2026. Please see the ABA website for their policies regarding this examination, which will be administered every even-numbered year.

“Legacy” Pathway

During the six-year “legacy” pathway period, eligible diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they are certified in neurocritical care by the UCNS or CAST, or if they have completed a UCNS, CAST, or other non-accredited fellowship in NCC.

Practice Pathway

During the six-year practice pathway period, eligible diplomates may qualify to take the exam if they have documented one of the following at the time of application:

* This calculation is based on an average work week of 40 hours. Physicians whose total practice exceeds 40 hours per week may still use the 40 hours number as the denominator of their percentage calculation.

** This approach specifically applies to academic program directors, administrators, or researchers, and provides them a pathway to qualification.

Post "Legacy"/Practice Pathway Period

Begins in 2027

After the six-year “legacy” or practice pathway period (2027 and beyond), all candidates who register for the NCC exam must meet the general requirements listed above, and must have completed one of the following training pathways:

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted every even-numbered year

Candidates who meet the requirements for this certification as defined above may apply for the exam through the Online Applications page in their ABS portal. Please note that applications will only be accepted in years during which the exam is offered, which is every even-numbered year.

Applicants are encouraged to begin the application process as early as possible. If the application process is not started but not completed, any materials or fees submitted cannot be carried over to another year.

Items Required

The online application form must be completed and submitted through the ABS portal, and must include the following documentation:

Pathway-specific materials
Confirmation Letter
  • Institution, confirming applicant’s full surgical privileges in NCC at an accredited health care institution, or
  • Program director, confirming applicant’s current fellowship status in another recognized surgical specialty.
Reference Letters
  • Chief of neurology or neurosurgery, AND
  • Chief of surgery

Following submission of all application materials and documentation, a link to pay the application fee via credit card will post to the applicant’s ABS portal within three (3) business days. Processing of submitted materials will then follow. 

Application and payment must be submitted by the deadline listed, to be considered for the next examination in NCC, administered by the ABA.

Following approval of the application, the ABA will contact applicants directly to complete registration, submit payment for the examination, and schedule a testing center date and location.

Maintaining Certification

Certification must be maintained through the ABA

If successful on the exam, diplomates will be deemed certified in NCC and will receive their official certificate within six months from the ABA. Diplomates must participate in the ABA MOCA 2.0® program to maintain the certificate.

Our exam managers are here to help.

Most questions can be answered with the information available on our website. For specific inquiries, please contact our team.

Contact a Coordinator

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