This policy defines the information communicated to the public by the American Board of Surgery regarding applicants and diplomates.
The ABS considers the personal information and examination record of an applicant or diplomate to be private and confidential. When an inquiry regarding an individual’s status is received, a general statement is provided indicating the person’s current situation in regard to ABS certification, along with his or her certification history. The ABS, however, may be legally required to produce personal information and/or examination records of an applicant or diplomate pursuant to a validly-issued legal order or subpoena or as part of any litigation involving ABS.
Current Certification Status
The current standing of an individual with the ABS will be reported using one of two designations:
- Certified: The individual is currently certified by the ABS.
- Not Certified: The individual is not currently certified by the ABS. Such individuals may have allowed their time-limited certificate to expire, were admitted to the certification process but never became certified, were never admitted, or never applied.
The following terms may also be listed if applicable to the individual’s current situation.
- Recognized: The individual has obtained a Designation of Focused Practice from the ABS. Individuals who are recognized as holding a Focused Practice Designation (FPD) must be currently certified by the ABS.
- In the Examination Process: The individual has an approved application/registration for certification and has not yet passed the required examinations, but has remaining examination opportunities.
- Clinically Inactive: The individual is certified by the ABS with the understanding that they are not actively participating in any patient management, either directly or in a supervisory capacity. This status is intended for individuals who are completely retired, working in an administrative or research capacity, or similar situation and do not treat patients or hold hospital privileges (see this page for more details).
- Retired in Good Standing: The individual completely retired from active practice with their certification current and in good standing.
- Suspended: The individual is not certified as their certificate has been indefinitely suspended. The certificate may be reinstated if certain requirements are met.
- Probation: The individual is certified but has a state medical license that has been placed on probation by a licensing authority. ABS probationary status may be terminated upon petition by the physician when all restrictions have been removed by the licensing authority or when the probation period expires. Please visit the appropriate state medical board website for specific information regarding state medical action(s), or visit docinfo.org to verify a physician’s license and professional background information.
- Revoked: The individual is not certified as his or her certificate has been permanently revoked.
Continuous Certification Status
The ABS will also indicate whether an individual is meeting the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program. The ABS will report this status using three different designations:
- Meeting Requirements: Individual is enrolled in the ABS Continuous Certification Program and in compliance with its requirements.
- Not Meeting Requirements: Individual is enrolled in the ABS Continuous Certification Program and not in compliance with its requirements.
- Not Required to Participate: Individual is not enrolled in the ABS Continuous Certification Program.
ABS diplomates are automatically enrolled in the ABS Continuous Certification Program upon certification or recertification after July 2005. Once enrolled, Continuous Certification applies to all certificates a surgeon holds. Surgeons must be in compliance with Continuous Certification to certify or recertify in any ABS specialty.
As part of the ABS Continuous Certification Program, board certification is contingent upon meeting the ongoing requirements of the program. Consistent with other ABMS Member Boards who have moved to a longitudinal assessment model, surgeons who were initially certified and/or took the Continuous Certification Assessment after September 2018 are issued certificates with no end dates to certification.
ABS recognizes that some entities require a certification end date to complete primary source verification. To assist in this process, we encourage credentialers to utilize the annual reverification date of Jan. 5, 2025 for this year to accurately determine a surgeon’s current certification status.
As long as a diplomate continues to meet their ongoing certification requirements via their ABS portal (including updated CME, references, payment of the annual fee for Continuous Certification when required) and take their assessment when due, anyone will be able to confirm their continued certification status in January, each year, as of the annual reverification date (which is the same date for all ABS diplomates participating in Continuous Certification).
The ABS supplies biographical and demographic data on diplomates to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for its online directory of board-certified physicians. Upon certification or recertification, diplomates will be contacted by the ABMS to specify which information they would like to appear in the directory. Diplomates will have their listings retained in the directory only if they maintain their certification according to the ABS Continuous Certification Program. Note there may be a lag between the ABS’ real-time data (see Check a Certification) and what is displayed on the ABMS website.
Updated: January 2024