ABS E-News
Fall 2020
ABS Welcomes New Leadership

ABS Board of Directors Welcomes New Leadership for the 2020-21 Year

ABS is thrilled to welcome Dr. John D. Mellinger, the J. Roland Folse, M.D. Endowed Chair in Surgery, vice chair of the department of surgery, and professor and chair of general surgery at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine, as ABS Chair for the 2020-2021 term. Dr. O. Joe Hines, chief of the division of general surgery, professor of surgery and vice chair for administration at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will support him in his role as vice chair.

In addition, Dr. Robert D. Fanelli has been elected to the ABS Board of Directors from the ABS Council to fill the seat vacated by former chair Dr. K. Craig Kent.

Read On »

Four New Representatives Join ABS Council

Four New Representatives Join the ABS Council

In June, ABS welcomed four new councilors to the organization, each of whom will serve a six-year term both on the ABS Council and on a specialty board that represents their practice area. Councilors also serve on one of four ABS Council Committees, each of which address a specific phase of the certification process.

Our new councilors are: Amy Hildreth, M.D., nominated by the Southeastern Surgical Congress; Harry T. Papaconstantinou, M.D., nominated by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery; Aurora D. Pryor, M.D., nominated by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons; and Carla M. Pugh, M.D., nominated by the American Surgical Association.

Meet the new councilors »

New Additions to our Specialty Boards

Two New Surgeons Appointed to the General Surgery Board of the American Board of Surgery

D. Rohan Jeyarajah, M.D., and Brent D. Matthews, M.D., have joined the General Surgery Board. Dr. Matthews replaces Dr. Daniel J. Scott, representing the Fellowship Council, and Dr. Jeyarajah replaces Dr. Mark P. Callery, representing the Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (AHPBA).

2019 ABS Continuous Certification Assessment Results and Feedback

Continuous Certification

The 2020 Continuous Certification Program Assessment cycle began on Aug. 3, 2020 with registration for this year's assessments. The assessment window opened on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, and will remain open until Monday, Nov. 23, 2020.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ABS has made modifications to the reporting requirements for diplomates with expiring time-limited certificates and diplomates who are due for their regularly-scheduled assessment (passed assessment in 2018 or in 2019 grace year). These modifications include:

  • Extended deadline to report on ongoing program requirements
  • Extended assessment window
    **now available until Nov. 23, 2020**
  • Option to complete the assessment prior to updating ongoing program requirements
  • Fee deferral in case of financial hardship

ABS also encourages anyone who has a grace year available to them and feels that they are unprepared or unable to take the assessment this year to take advantage of the grace year.

For full details about each of these modifications,
please visit the ABS website using the button below.

Modification Information

Important 2020-21 Dates:

  • Aug. 3 – Nov. 23: Registration available for all 2019 assessments
  • Sept. 7 – Nov. 23, 2020: Assessment window
  • Nov. 23, 2020: Assessment window closes
  • Jan. 15, 2021: Ongoing program requirements due by 11:59 p.m. ET

Assessment References

Each year, the ABS provides new reference materials to allow diplomates to hone in on the areas that they should be aware of for the assessment. References are provided for transparency about the sources that support the development of the assessment, and reflect that the assessments primarily focus on important evidence-based recent updates to surgical practice. Diplomates are neither required nor expected to read all of these references before or during the completion of the assessment.

View References
Importance of Board Certified Physicians in Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Settings

On the COVID-19 Front Lines: Amy J. Goldberg, M.D.

ABS Director Amy J. Goldberg, M.D. discusses repurposing a Temple University Health System building to care for patients with COVID-19.

How she did it »

Residents Who Experience Mistreatment During Training are at a Greater Risk of Burnout, Suicidal Thoughts

On the COVID-19 Front Lines: Gary B. Korus, M.D.

ABS Associate Examiner Dr. Gary B. Korus discusses the importance of communication, education and family on the front lines of COVID-19.

Getting inspired »

Association Between Resident Training Experience and Program-Level Performance on Board Examinations

On the COVID-19 Front Lines: Rebecca M. Minter, M.D.

ABS Director Rebecca M. Minter, M.D. discusses surgical oncology care and creating a safe workspace during COVID-19.

Showing compassion »

In case you missed it...

ABS Study Links Initial Certification to Risk of Receiving Severe Disciplinary Actions Against Medical Licenses

In this retrospective analysis, Jason P. Kopp, Ph.D., and colleagues, studied severe license action rates for 44,290 surgeons who attempted ABS certification, based on certification status and examination performance. Results showed that the incidence of severe license actions was significantly greater for surgeons who attempted and failed to obtain certification than surgeons who were certified, indicating that obtaining board certification is associated with a lower rate of receiving severe license actions from a state medical board.

This study provides supporting evidence that board certification can be viewed as a marker of surgeon quality and professionalism.

Review the Study »

ABS Exam Update

Initial Certification
Examination Update

The COVID-19 pandemic caused operational issues for everyone in the surgical community, and ABS was no different.

With the intention of providing a safer, more convenient examination experience for candidates, ABS announced in May that the July 2020 General Surgery Qualifying Exam (QE) would be delivered as a web-based, at-home exam. Technical failure with the remote proctoring service forced ABS to cancel the General Surgery QE mid-exam on July 16.

What Happened? »

ABS spent a full month developing a solution to the canceled exam by listening to input from candidates, as well as from roundtable discussions had by ABS boards and committees with the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS), the Resident Advisory Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS), the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Additional information was solicited from partner societies, from other ABMS boards, and from stakeholders who use the certification credential.

The solution includes a rescheduled exam date at a testing center, a discount on the next administration of the exam, the option to take the General Surgery Certifying Exam (CE) before the rescheduled QE, a one-year subscription to SCORE, credit and ID monitoring for two years, and letters to employers upon request.

Full Solution to the General Surgery QE »

ABS announced in July that the September 2020 Pediatric Surgery QE, Vascular Surgery QE, Complex General Surgical Oncology QE and Surgical Critical Care Certifying Exam (CE) would be delivered in the same way as the planned General Surgery QE. However, after the cancellation of the general surgery exam, it was clear that this was no longer a viable option. All of these exams have also been rescheduled for a later date at a testing center.

Rescheduled Specialty Exam Information »

Due to COVID, ABS was forced to cancel the administrations of the April and June General Surgery Certifying Examinations (CE) and the May Vascular Surgery CE. In May and June, ABS ran two successful virtual exam pilots. Following the June pilot, a survey was sent to all CE-eligible general surgery and vascular surgery candidates, asking their preference for completing the exam either in-person or remotely. Overall, 54% of respondents said that they would prefer remote administration of the exam, while 23% had no preference.

Utilizing video conferencing software and staff proctors, ABS announced that it would offer all oral exams for all specialties in a virtual format for the 2020-21 academic year, which began with the October 2020 General Surgery CE. The first large-scale administration of an oral exam was a success, and ABS will continue to hone this new process for future exams.

October 2020 General Surgery CE

Look for an update in our next newsletter to find out more about this exciting advancement in the certification process.

Importance of Board Certified Physicians in Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Settings

Communications Survey

In an effort to improve communication with diplomates, ABS has established a Diplomate Engagement Task Force to address shortfalls and improve communications overall. We would appreciate it if you could complete a brief, anonymous survey to let us know how we are doing and how we can improve.

Complete Survey »

Volunteer With ABS

Volunteer with ABS

ABS has over 400 diplomate volunteers across all of our surgical specialties who write questions for our exams, serve as examiners for our Certifying Exams, and provide essential user testing and feedback on ABS products such as our public website and diplomate portal. Would you like to get involved?

Volunteer with ABS »

Association Between Resident Training Experience and Program-Level Performance on Board Examinations

Surgeon Stories: Call for Volunteers

Following an emotional and powerful retreat on institutional racism at the September 2020 ABS Specialty Boards Meeting, ABS is looking for diplomate volunteers who are willing to share their own personal stories about their experience(s) as a minority surgeon.

Learn More »


Ward O. Griffen, Jr., M.D.
July 21, 1928 – July 21, 2020
ABS Director 1977 – 1983
ABS Executive Director 1984 – 1994

John A. Mannick, M.D.
March 24, 1928 – October 13, 2019
ABS Director 1971 – 1977

Jeremiah Turcotte, M.D.
January 20, 1933 – February 12, 2020
ABS Director 1982 – 1988

The American Board of Surgery, Inc.
1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 860
Philadelphia, PA 19103
facebook twitter linkedin