General Surgery Program Director Update – October 2022

With the 2022-2023 academic year underway, the ABS would like to remind programs of our policies and alert them to several changes to procedures for this year.

With the 2022-2023 academic year underway, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) would like to remind programs of our policies and alert them to several changes to procedures for this year.

  • Program faculty will no longer be permitted to take the ABSITE, and any faculty member who took the 2022 ABSITE may not participate in any ABSITE review course for the next three (3) years.
  • There are minimum system requirements updates for the ABSITE Secure Browser and Program Workshop effective for the 2023 ABSITE. See here (PDF) for full details.
  • Trainees must have 48 weeks of chief experience for certification without exception. These rotations can occur in EITHER the PGY-4 or PGY-5 year.
  • All requests for approval of PGY-4 chief rotations must be sent to the ACGME; separate approval by the ABS is not required.
  • Chief residents must be listed on the program’s trainee roster as Clinical Level 5 and completing training in 2023 to ensure that they have automatic access to the 2023 QE application when it becomes available.
  • The 2023 QE will be held on Thursday, July 13, 2023; all applicants will be required to meet current ABS training requirements to sit for this exam.
  • FLS and FES certifications must be obtained prior to approval of a candidate’s QE application.
  • The names of any PGY-4 residents taking the 2023 QE must be provided to the ABS by February 15, 2023.
  • Extension of training, Flexible Rotations, and International Rotations all require advanced approval by the ABS, which must be obtained prior to submission of residents’ QE applications.
Qualifying Examination (QE) Application WARNING

The ABS would like to alert programs to several problems which significantly impacted the ABS’ ability to process 2022 QE applications in a timely fashion.

  • Submission of inaccurate trainee rosters;
  • Failure to obtain the required prior ABS approval when deviations in resident training occurred; and
  • Lack of documentation of existing ABS approval for training variations.

These items are all a source of significant delays in application processing. Applications with these issues will be processed last and may not be processed in time for the 2023 QE. Please be certain that the applications are complete and accurate before submission.

Chief Rotations

The ACGME has developed a pathway for approval of PGY-4 chief rotations when family leave is taken in the PGY-5 year.

All requests for approval for PGY-4 chief rotations must be sent to the ACGME, including for non-content area of surgery flexible rotations that occur in the PGY 5/chief year.

This replaces last year’s practice of ABS providing informal approval of chief rotations to accommodate the new family leave policy. Separate approval by the ABS will no longer be provided.

Trainee Rosters

Trainee rosters are the basis for your program’s ABSITE order form as well as to allow access to the QE application for PGY-5 and eligible PGY-4 candidates. Best practices include the following:

Programs are now able to update their trainee rosters via the ABS website. Please make any updates or corrections as soon as possible. Submission of the trainee roster by the Oct. 24 deadline is REQUIRED in order for your program to be able to place an ABSITE order this year.
– Residents missing from your roster after this date will not be permitted to take the 2023 ABSITE.
– Residents will be registered for the ABSITE exactly as listed on the trainee roster. This cannot be corrected after the fact, and any discrepancies may cause problems with future documentation.

Any subsequent changes/additions to your trainee roster following submission by Oct. 24 will be accepted via email to the exam coordinator until Dec. 31, 2022.

Chief residents must be listed as a clinical level 5 and completing in 2023 to have access to the QE application.
– Chief residents not listed on your roster will not be provided access to the application. Correcting inaccurate rosters takes time and may not be completed in time for candidates to take the 2023 QE.

*No roster changes, either directly on the website or by email request, will be accepted after December 31, 2022.*

2023 Qualifying Examination and PGY-4 applicants

The next QE will be administered on July 13, 2023.

Candidates must obtain FLS and FES certifications prior to application to the QE. Applications will not be approved if a candidate has not obtained these certifications.

If your program plans to allow PGY-4 residents to take the QE, you must provide the names of these residents no later than February 15, 2023. No PGY 4 residents will be admitted to the exam after that date.

Chief residents who are missing or incorrectly listed on your trainee roster will not be able to take the 2023 QE. It is critical to ensure that the roster is accurate prior to the opening of applications.

Situations Requiring Advance ABS Approval and Supporting Documentation (Applicants must upload approval letter with application)

Extension of Training Beyond June 30

Applicants may extend their final year of training through the end of August and still take that year’s QE with advance approval by the ABS.

The program is required to submit a second, final letter of attestation from the program director stating that the resident has met ABS requirements.

This letter must be received before registration to the Certifying Exam (CE) is permitted.

Flexible Rotations

Programs may customize up to 12 months of a resident’s rotation in the last 36 months of residency to allow for “early tracking” into the resident’s chosen specialty.

When flexible rotations are in the chief year and not in the content area of surgery, a copy of the ACGME letter approving compensating chief rotations in the PGY-4 is required.

International Rotations

International rotations are not permitted in the PGY-1 year or as a chief rotation.

The ABS will only consider international rotations in the PGY-5 year when the request includes the ACGME approval of PGY-4 chief rotations International rotations cannot be counted as chief rotations.

Oct. 7, 2022 Media Contact: Alyson Maloney

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