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American Board of Surgery Mission Statement


The American Board of Surgery serves the public and the specialty of surgery by providing leadership in surgical education and practice, by promoting excellence through rigorous evaluation and examination, and by promoting the highest standards for professionalism, lifelong learning, and the continuous certification of surgeons in practice.



Welcome New Directors and Members


This summer, ABS will welcome eight new directors and seven new members. All ABS directors and members are currently certified by the ABS and meeting the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program. They will each serve a six-year term.

New Directors
Clockwise: Dr. Angelos, Dr. Chaer, Dr. Jenkins, Dr. McMasters, Dr. Tseng, Dr. Robinson, Dr. Olthoff, and Dr. Mitchell.

ABS will welcome eight new surgeons to the board of directors:

  • Peter Angelos, M.D. - Southwestern Surgical Congress
  • Rabih A. Chaer, M.D. - Society for Vascular Surgery
  • Joseph T. Jenkins, M.D. - At-Large
  • Kelly M. McMasters, M.D., Ph.D. - Southern Surgical Association
  • John Mitchell, M.D. - American Board of Thoracic Surgery
  • Kim M. Olthoff, M.D. - American Surgical Association
  • Allison J. Robinson, M.D. - At-Large
  • Jennifer F. Tseng, M.D. - Society of University Surgeons

In addition to the new directors joining the organization, ABS will also welcome seven new component board members:

New Component Board Members
Clockwise: Dr. Hayes-Jordan, Dr. Henry-Tillman, Dr. J. Lee, Dr. S. Lee, Dr. Stein, Dr. Schanzer, and Dr. Mansour.
  • Vascular Surgery Board
    Jason T. Lee, M.D. - Society for Vascular Surgery
    Andres Schanzer, M.D. - Society for Vascular Surgery
  • Pediatric Surgery Board
    Andrea Hayes-Jordan, M.D. - American Pediatric Surgical Association
    Steven L. Lee, M.D. - ACS Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery
  • Trauma, Burns and Critical Care Board
    Deborah M. Stein - ACS Committee on Trauma
  • Surgical Oncology Board
    Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, M.D. - American Society of Breast Surgeons
    John C. Mansour, M.D. - Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association

Full Announcement

Continuous Certification Program Update


Continuous Certification Assessment

This year, the Continuous Certification Program is expanding! In addition to the General Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment, which was introduced in 2018 and received a very positive response, assessments will be available for diplomates who maintain certificates in vascular surgery, pediatric surgery and/or surgical critical care. Diplomates with certificates expiring in 2019 may use the assessment to continue their certification in their specialty area.

Important Dates

  • Aug. 1 - Nov. 4: Registration opens for all 2019 assessments
  • Sept. 6 - Nov. 4: Assessment Window
  • Oct. 21: Last day to begin to ensure you have the full two weeks

The Assessment

A major component of the Continuous Certification Program is a 40-question, open-book assessment to be taken and passed every other year. Topics and references for the various areas will be published over the summer on the ABS website, prior to Aug. 1.

Continuous Certification Assessment

Diplomates are able to take the assessment through their own computer or mobile device at a time and place of their choosing. While taking the assessment, diplomates will be provided with immediate feedback, and will have two opportunities to answer a question correctly. A final score of 80% correct is required to pass.

Once the assessment is started, diplomates will have two weeks to complete it, with the ability to save and continue when convenient. The individual questions are untimed.

General Surgery Assessment | Vascular Surgery Assessment | Pediatric Surgery Assessment | Surgical Critical Care Assessment

Additional Program Requirements

All diplomates are required to stay up to date with the other Continuous Certification Program requirements, regardless as to whether or not they have started the assessment process. This includes:

  • Medical license
  • Hospital or surgical center privileges
  • Professional references
  • Operative log
  • Practice improvement activities
  • CME

Please note that tracking of all ongoing requirements runs on the academic year schedule at this time (July 1–June 31). Diplomate profiles will be updated with current status by July 1, 2019.

Program Enrollment and Next Steps

Once you have registered for a Continuous Certification Assessment, you are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. Your certification status will then be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting the additional Continuous Certification Program requirements.

An annual fee of $285 will cover general program participation and one assessment every other year. Diplomates who maintain more than one ABS certificate will pay an additional annual fee of $150 for each additional certificate, but only after they register for their first assessment in that specialty.

See the Continuous Certification area of our website for additional information, and stay tuned for more details prior to registration opening in August. For specific questions, please send an email to cc@absurgery.org, or call our dedicated Continuous Certification hotline at 215-568-4000, 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Continuous Certification Assessment

Look out for an email in the coming weeks with details about your personal certification status.

To stay up to date on all things Continuous Certification-related, be sure to follow ABS on Twitter, and like us on Facebook and LinkedIn. We share all new information about the Continuous Certification Program as soon as it is available on all three of our social media channels as well as in the news area of our website, so check back frequently!

Most importantly, make sure your contact information is up-to-date. As we move further into the digital age, more and more of our communications are moving to email instead of hard-copy mail. We must have your current email address on file at all times to alert you of important factors that can affect your certification status, such as when you must update your CME, when you should request new references and when you need to take an assessment. Click here to log in to your portal and make sure we can reach you.

General Surgery Recertification Exam Performance Associated With Subsequent Loss of License Actions


An important component of maintaining board certification in general surgery is the requirement to pass a periodic assessment. Critics have argued that maintaining certification is not related to meaningful outcomes and that the assessment component is unnecessary. Prior to introducing the General Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) offered a recertification exam for general surgeons to maintain their board certification. No previous study has analyzed the relationship between recertification exam performance and outcomes.

In a follow-up to a previous ABS study that examined the relationship between maintaining board certification and loss of license actions, a new study finds a direct association between recertification examination performance in general surgery and subsequent loss of license actions.

Results show that general surgeons who failed their first recertification exam attempt had a higher rate of subsequent loss of license actions than those who passed on their first attempt, suggesting that effectively demonstrating sufficient surgical knowledge is a significant predictor of future severe negative licensing actions. The ABS will continue to monitor the relationship between surgeon performance and participation in the new Continuous Certification Program and outcomes.

To view the study and its results, please visit the Annals of Surgery website (subscription required).

Focused Practice Designation in Metabolic Bariatric Surgery


Preliminary design for Metabolic Bariatric Surgery Focused Practice Designation certificate

ABS is pleased to announce that we have submitted an application to the ABMS for a Focused Practice Designation (FPD) in Metabolic Bariatric Surgery. The application is currently publicly available for review and open comment by interested parties on the ABMS website.

The broad category of FPD was approved by ABMS in 2017 and recognizes areas of practice that either evolve as physicians and specialists progress throughout their professional careers or emerge as medicine changes due to advances in medical knowledge. FPD is not a form of initial certification; rather, it defines or recognizes areas of additional experience or focus within recognized specialties or subspecialties. This designation will acknowledge the evolution of practice that occurs following initial certification and is relevant to continuing certification.

FPD enables ABMS Member Boards to collaborate with subject matter experts and related specialty organizations to set standards for, assess, and acknowledge additional expertise that physicians gain through clinical experience. It allows physicians to concentrate their continuing certification efforts in the very area on which much of their professional practice is based. The FPD for Metabolic Bariatric Surgery has been developed primarily with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

This designation can be earned at any time in a surgeon's lifetime, regardless of fellowship status, by meeting requirements including practice volume and knowledge assessments as defined by specialty societies and approved by the ABS. After initial recognition, Focused Practice Designation will be enhanced by having ABS Continuous Certification modules co-developed by the ABS and the pertinent sponsoring societies.

Focused practice designation in Metabolic Bariatric Surgery recognizes surgeons who dedicate a significant percentage of their practice to the comprehensive care of bariatric patients including primary and revisional bariatric surgery, management of bariatric complications and endoscopy. This designation will allow ABS to work with subject matter experts to establish standards and assessments for this specific area within the field of general surgery.

Retired Status


Have you heard? Diplomates who have retired from practice are now able to request a status of "retired" to be displayed alongside their name on the ABS website. This status is intended for surgeons who are no longer active in practice in any capacity. These individuals may not be treating patients and may not be supervising residents or others in providing patient care.

If you are a retired surgeon who would like to take advantage of this new status, please complete the Diplomate Request for Retired Status online form. If you meet the necessary criteria, your status with ABS will be, "Retired in Good Standing." Please note that your status will not say "Certified" unless you are currently participating in the ABS Continuous Certification Program. In the case of most retired surgeons, the full status will be, "Not Certified; Retired in Good Standing."

What does "good standing" mean? This means that, at the time of retirement, you:

  • Had a valid medical license
  • Had no disciplinary actions against your license or ABS certificate
  • Were compliant with Maintenance of Certification (MOC) at the time of retirement, if applicable

The above list is not exhaustive, and there are other factors that may affect the application of this status. For more information, please see our Retired policy.

Website Badges


A popular request that the ABS office receives from diplomates is for a version of our logo that diplomates may include on their website to display their certified status. Unfortunately, because the seal of the American Board of Surgery is a registered trademark, we do not allow it to be used for promotional purposes on websites, brochures, letterhead, etc., by diplomates, institutions or others.

Continuous Certification Assessment

To remedy this issue and as a service to diplomates, ABS has developed website badges that diplomates may now request and use on their website or in promotional materials to proudly display that they are ABS-certified in one or more surgical specialties offered from ABS. There is a badge available for each of our seven specialties: general surgery; vascular surgery; pediatric surgery; surgical critical care; complex general surgical oncology; hand surgery; and hospice and palliative medicine.

To request one or more of these badges for use on your website or other promotional materials, please contact our communications department. Please include in your email your full name, candidate ID and which badge(s) you are requesting. Badge requests without this information cannot be fulfilled.

Please be advised that, due to high interest in these website badges, the processing of requests is taking longer than expected. If you submit a request for badges, your request will be fulfilled within two to four weeks.

Don't forget - diplomates may also promote their ABS certification with personalized brochures created to be displayed in offices. Currently, these brochures are offered for our two primary specialties: general surgery and vascular surgery. Similar promotional materials are in development for our subspecialties. Contact us to request your personalized PDF. Please include in your email the information that you would like displayed on your brochure (surgeon(s) name(s), name of practice, address, email, website, phone number, etc.). Brochure requests without this information cannot be fulfilled.

DABS™ – Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery


To further assist diplomates in promoting their ABS certification, we recently trademarked the term DABS™ for use after their name. Current diplomates are welcome to add this term to business cards, websites and other materials. As this is a new term, diplomates may wish to also include explanatory text, like so:

Jane E. Smith, M.D., DABS (Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery)
Jane E. Smith, M.D., DABS
Diplomate, The American Board of Surgery

Diplomates may also promote their ABS certification with personalized brochures and/or website badges, as outlined above.


Re-entry to Practice – Tips and Guidelines for Diplomates


We get it. Sometimes, you just need to take some time away from practice to focus on other aspects of your life. Maybe you wanted to take some time away to raise a family. Perhaps you wanted to explore another career option, or needed to take an extended leave for medical reasons. Whatever your reason for time away was, ABS realizes that it may be difficult to transition back into surgical practice, especially with the credentialing requirements that some institutions have in place.

If you are a diplomate who is thinking about some time away, ABS Executive Director Dr. Jo Buyske has some suggestions on how to make your re-entry to surgical practice a little easier down the line:

  1. Continue to renew your medical license
  2. Maintain your board certification
  3. Continue to participate in CME and other related training
  4. Stay in touch with old colleagues

Dr. Buyske has been a champion of the ABS re-entry policy since she joined the organization in 2008. At that time, she left her role as the chief of surgery and director of minimally invasive surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, but after two years, she realized that she missed surgery and began to look into her options to return.

Re-entry to Practice

Dr. Buyske's experience returning to practice helped inform the ABS re-entry guidelines. The guidelines, listed below, recommend that surgeons first find a local physician champion who can assess six key competencies: medical knowledge; patient care; professionalism; communication; practice-based learning; and systems-based practice. After finding a physician champion, the returning surgeon should work with them to develop a proctoring plan that will provide decreasing degrees of supervision in the OR until he or she can operate independently.

To learn more about Dr. Buyske's personal experience and how she was able to get back into practice, see the October 2018 article from General Surgery News, Physician Re-Entry: Managing the Bumpy Road.

ABS supports the re-entry of surgeons to active surgical practice, and has a set of guidelines that we endorse for surgeons seeking to re-establish their clinical careers. A re-entry pathway is warranted after two or more years removed from surgical practice and should address the following elements:

  1. Assessment of status of practice at departure
  2. Re-entry pathway constructed by the local physician champion
  3. Proctoring plan
  4. Outcomes assessment
  5. Continuous Certification

For more information on what each of these re-entry elements entails, please visit our website to review our Guidelines on Re-entry to Surgical Practice. Individuals seeking to re-enter practice should consult with ABS regarding their situation prior to developing a re-entry plan based on the guidelines above. ABS will review and approve the re-entry plan prior to implementation.

What Do You Want to Hear from ABS?


What do you want to hear from ABS? What would be most helpful in a newsletter or in other outreach efforts?

We want our communications to be useful and relevant to our diplomates. Do you want to hear more about what's going on at ABS, or more about what's going on in the broader field of surgery? Do you want more visual content, like videos and infographics? Would you listen to an ABS podcast or read an ABS blog?

As a reminder, we will always update you on your certification status — even if you unsubscribe from our newsletters and e-alerts, you will still receive notifications when you are due to complete an assessment or are missing any of your ongoing requirements. However, we want our other messages to be just as important and interesting to you, and would love your feedback on how we can make that happen.

Click here to answer a couple of quick questions about what you want to see from us.

  The American Board of Surgery  
  1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Ste. 860  
  Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA | 215.568.4000  
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