Stay Certified

The ABS Continuous Certification Program is designed to provide flexible, high-quality, practice-relevant learning and assessment to support surgeons in their practice as they maintain their ABS board certification.


Lifelong learning for high-quality patient care

Continuous Certification documents a surgeon’s ongoing commitment to professionalism, lifelong learning, and practice improvement following initial board certification.

The ABS Continuous Certification Program has been designed to provide flexible, high-quality, practice-related learning and assessment to support surgeons in their practice. It was created with input from thousands of diplomates, and allows surgeons to stay current in the medical knowledge they use to treat patients and provide quality patient care.

Once participating in the program, a diplomate’s certification status will be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting ongoing certification requirements. This paradigm is intended to more accurately reflect the rapid changes in surgical knowledge and practice and better promote high-quality patient care.

smiling patient in hospital bed
Continuous Certification Process

Continuous Certification is an ongoing learning process

Enroll in Program / Register for Assessment

Once a diplomate registers for their first assessment, they are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. Diplomates initially certified in 2018 or later are automatically enrolled in the program.

Initial Assessment

To maintain their certification, diplomates must complete their first assessment in the year that their time-limited certificate expires, or two years after initial certification for those certified in 2018 or later.

Ongoing Requirements

Diplomates must be up to date on the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program to maintain their certification and register for future assessments.

Future Assessments

When a diplomate passes their assessment, the next one is due two years later. Note: This is different for diplomates who pass their assessment during a grace year or are enrolled in the lapsed pathway.
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Newly Certified Diplomates

Newly certified diplomates are automatically enrolled

As of 2018, diplomates who achieve initial certification through the ABS are automatically enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program. These diplomates will begin taking the assessment two years after achieving initial certification.

General surgery diplomates will complete their first Continuous Certification Assessment two years after the academic year in which they achieve initial certification (for example, if certified in the 2022-2023 academic year, the first assessment would be due in 2025).

Diplomates who achieve initial certification in vascular surgery*, pediatric surgery, complex general surgical oncology, surgical critical care, or hand surgery will complete their first assessment two years after initial certification (for example, if certified in May 2021 or September 2021, the first assessment would be due in 2023).

*Note: Due to the COVID-related rescheduling of the 2020 and 2021 Vascular Surgery Certifying Exams, those who became certified in vascular surgery in either January or July 2021 took their first Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment in 2023.

Current Diplomates

Diplomates with time-limited certificates must register to enroll

Diplomates with expiring time-limited (10-year) certificates must enroll in the Continuous Certification Program to remain certified. Enrollment is complete only after all ongoing requirements have been met, the annual fee has been paid, and the program attestation has been signed.

Completing and passing a Continuous Certification Assessment marks an entrance into the Continuous Certification process, in which CME, participation in a registry or quality assessment program, and licensing information must be up to date, as well as an assessment every other year.

senior doctor in an office
medical students reviewing paper
Once participating in Continuous Certification, an assessment will be due every two years

The Continuous Certification Assessment window runs for ten weeks annually from late-summer to mid-fall. Diplomates who are due for an assessment must complete it during this time frame, and will have up to two weeks to complete the assessment once it is started with the opportunity to save progress and continue at a later time during this two-week period

All Continuous Certification Assessments focus on the latest and most important developments in practice to assist diplomates in staying up to date. Assessments are due every other year for diplomates enrolled in the program, with a grace year available in the alternating year if necessary.

8/26 - 11/4
Continuous Certification Assessment
Location: Virtual
Fee: $285
Registration Start: 8/1/2024 - 11/4/2024

The $285 annual fee covers one assessment every other year, free access to all assessment reference materials, and general Continuous Certification Program participation.

10/15 - 10/28
Continuous Certification Readmission Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,700
Registration Start: 8/1/2024 - 10/21/2024

This exam is for surgeons who either: (1) did not successfully complete the lapsed pathway; or (2) are not eligible to enter the lapsed pathway.

Ongoing Certification Requirements
Diplomates must be up to date on their ongoing certification requirements to maintain their certification

Diplomates should maintain their certification requirements on an ongoing basis. While the assessment is due every other year, all other program requirements should be monitored and updated frequently. Diplomates may check their status anytime via their ABS portal to view when items are due and submit any necessary information.

Representation of Certification Status Policy
Diplomates of the American Board of Surgery, as well as individuals currently in the process of certification or recertification, must accurately state their certification status at all times.