Vascular Surgery Credit for Foreign Graduate Medical Education

Policy governing credit for foreign graduate training pertaining to board certification in vascular surgery.

The following policy outlines the terms under which the ABS will grant credit in vascular surgery for training completed outside the U.S. or Canada.


The ABS does not grant credit directly to residents for surgical education completed outside the U.S. or Canada. The ABS will consider granting partial credit for foreign graduate medical education to a resident in a U.S. ACGME-accredited integrated (five-year) vascular surgery residency program, but only upon request of the program director.

Preliminary evaluations will not be provided prior to enrollment in a residency program, either to the resident or program director. Credit for foreign training is not available to residents in independent (two-year) vascular surgery programs.

All requests for credit and related inquiries must be sent by mail or fax on official letterhead from the program director—emails will not be accepted. Requests for more than one year of credit must be submitted by March 15 with all required documentation.

Requests for Credit

The vascular surgery program director is the primary judge of the resident’s proficiency. If a program director believes a resident to be a candidate for credit, the resident should be assigned to the PGY-2 or PGY-3 level when entering the program so the appropriate level of clinical skills can be assessed. Program directors should make the request for credit only after having observed the individual for at least six months to ascertain that clinical performance is consistent with the level of credit requested.

Requests for credit from the program director must be accompanied by the following:

  1. Documentation of satisfactory completion of foreign medical school
  2. Documentation of foreign residency training, with vascular specialty training defined by year
  3. Documentation of specialty certification in the foreign venue in general surgery and/or vascular surgery, if achieved
  4. Operative log of cases during U.S. training and role in each as operating surgeon or first assistant
  5. Chronological listing of former foreign and U.S. practice after specialty training
  6. Chronological listing of all U.S. training, with specific description of accreditation status of training program and whether or not resident occupied an accredited or supernumerary (above accredited limit) position in program
  7. Attestation by program director of satisfactory completion of all U.S. or Canadian surgical resident training years for which credit is sought
  8. All ABSITE and VSITE scores.

Residents will be required to take the VSITE and/or ABSITE before credit may be requested. Program directors should contact the ABS coordinator to ascertain what would be most appropriate based on the individual’s prior training. The resident’s scores should be consonant with the level of credit requested by the program director.

Requests will not be approved without the documentation above. Requests for credit should be submitted only once all required documentation, as outlined above, is available. Requests for more than one year of credit must be submitted by March 15.

Requesting 3 Years’ Credit: Special Considerations

Program directors who wish to advance residents to senior levels must obtain ABS approval prior to beginning the PGY-4 year; otherwise credit for these years will be denied.

When seeking three years of credit to enter training at the PGY-4 level, a candidate should complete at least six months of training at the PGY-3 level under the program director’s supervision, or be participating in a fellowship at the same institution for a similar period so the level of clinical functioning can be evaluated.

Approval Process

Requests for credit for one year of residency training may be approved at any time by the president and chief executive officer of the ABS; requests for more than one year of credit must be approved by the ABS Education and Training Committee. The March 15 deadline for requests for more than one year of credit allows time for review by the ABS Education and Training Committee in order to provide program directors with a decision by May 1. Program directors will be notified of credit decisions by letter from the ABS president and chief executive officer.

Credit Granted

Credit for foreign training may be granted in lieu of the first or second clinical years of residency, and rarely the third. Credit is never given for the fourth or fifth clinical years, which must be completed satisfactorily in an accredited U.S. program.

Typically one year of credit will be granted for three or more years of foreign training, and two years of credit will be granted for full surgical training plus board certification or its equivalent in the foreign venue if the training is similar in length and in the breadth of experience obtained. The granting of credit is not guaranteed. If the resident moves to another program, the credit is not transferable and must be requested by the resident’s new program director after a new period of evaluation.

Canadian Residents

No credit for postgraduate surgical education outside the U.S. and Canada will be granted to applicants who complete a Canadian program. Such applicants must have completed all of the requirements in a Canadian surgery program accredited by the RCPSC or in combination with a U.S. surgery program accredited by the ACGME. Applicants from Canadian programs must comply with ABS requirements for certification.

Prior U.S. Training

Prior residency training in ACGME-accredited surgical residencies as a preliminary (non-categorical) resident at the PGY-1 or PGY-2 level may be credited on a year-for-year basis if satisfactory completion of each year is documented in writing by the responsible program director. The training must have been completed within the five-year period preceding the request for credit. Credit will only be granted for the specific level of training completed; candidates who complete two years at the same level of training, e.g., a preliminary PGY-1 followed by a categorical PGY-1, will receive credit for only one year.

Non-Residency Fellowships

It has become increasingly common for foreign medical graduates to complete non-ACGME accredited fellowships prior to entering residency. It is not possible for the ABS to evaluate the quality of such training, and in general it will not be creditable toward the required residency training or will be creditable only on a limited basis.

See also Information Regarding International Training

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The links posted within resources are provided for informational purposes only. ABS assumes no responsibility for the content of these websites.

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