Details on enrolling
Once a diplomate registers for an assessment, they are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program.
Continuous Certification Assessment: Diplomates with general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery or surgical critical care certificates expiring this year may use the new assessment process to continue their certification.
Diplomates who become certified in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care and/or complex general surgical oncology in the 2018-2019 academic year or thereafter will be automatically enrolled in the new assessment process. These diplomates will begin taking the assessment two years after the academic year in which they became certified. For example, if someone becomes certified in the 2019-2020 academic year, they will take their first assessment in fall 2022.
General Surgery: As part of the new assessment process, we are inviting surgeons whose general surgery certificates have lapsed to regain their certification through a special pathway. This pathway will only be available for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020. See our lapsed certificate policy for more details.
Other Specialties: A special pathway to regain certification is also available for vascular surgery, pediatric surgery and surgical critical care surgeons whose certificates have lapsed. Like the general surgery lapsed pathway, it will only be available for three years: 2019, 2020 and 2021. See our lapsed certificate policy for more details.
Registration for all 2019 Continuous Certification Assessments will be open sometime in summer 2019. The assessment will be available for several weeks in fall 2019.
You will have up to two weeks to complete the assessment once you begin, with the opportunity to save your progress and continue at a later time during this two-week period.
Please note: Your personal two-week time limit will start the moment you click the “Begin” button on the ABS portal – do not click it until you are absolutely sure that you are ready to begin your assessment.
For more information about preparing for and taking the General Surgery Assessment, please see our General Surgery Assessment page. Additional details are forthcoming for the vascular surgery, pediatric surgery and surgical critical care assessments.
Once participating in the new assessment process, a diplomate's certification status will be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting the other program requirements. This new paradigm is intended to more accurately reflect the rapid changes in surgical knowledge and practice and better promote high-quality patient care.
However, failing the assessment in the year it is due will not immediately affect certification status. Diplomates in good standing will be able to retake the assessment the following year (grace year) if necessary.
We encourage diplomates to do their best on all assessment attempts.
Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program and are not up to date with all program requirements at the time of assessment registration will be unable to take the assessment until those requirements have been fulfilled.
Grace years are provided to diplomates who do not pass an assessment when it is due or if they are unsuccessful in their assessment attempt. For a diplomate to be eligible for a grace year:
Please note: Grace years are available for everyone in good standing and participating in the Continuous Certification Program, whenever an assessment is normally due. Diplomates who are currently in a grace year and do not pass the assessment will not be issued another grace year at that time.
Regaining certification after the grace year will then require successful completion of a secure exam. Diplomates participating in the lapsed pathway will be eligible for a grace year after five years.
Once diplomates enroll, an annual fee will be required. The annual fee reflects the ongoing development of all aspects of the Continuous Certification Program, including diplomate status tracking, public reporting of diplomate status, self-service features like the CME Repository, and the new modular assessment process, which will require hundreds of new questions with explanations and references, as well as a new online delivery platform. The current annual fee is $285, and covers all general program participation, including one assessment every other year.
Once diplomates pass the new assessment, the current Continuous Certification requirement of 150 Category 1 CME credits over five years, with at least 50 including self-assessment, will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required.
Upon passing the new assessment, diplomates will be issued a new certificate without an expiration date. A diplomate's current certification status will then be verified using the Check a Certification feature on the ABS website.