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Vascular Surgery Board Mission Statement


The Vascular Surgery Board of the American Board of Surgery serves the public and the specialty of vascular surgery by providing leadership in surgical education and practice, by promoting excellence through rigorous evaluation and examination, and by promoting the highest standards for professionalism, lifelong learning, and the continuous certification of surgeons in practice.



Message from the Chair

Gilbert R. Upchurch, M.D.

As my first message as the Chair of the Vascular Surgery Board (VSB), I think it is important to actually discuss how this came to be (i.e. how I became chair). It is important to our diplomates that this process be transparent and at the same time, all appreciate that the process has been improved through both the advocacy of the VSB and the willingness to change by the American Board of Surgery (ABS). Prior to this year, the VSB chair had always come from either the VSB nominees of Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) or the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS). This typically occurred in an "every other term" fashion. The term of the VSB chair has historically been for three years.

However, while there have been many amazing leaders of the VSB using this process, the current members of the VSB suggested a change in the process. First, we thought that the VSB should elect its own chair, consistent with the practice of other specialty boards. The VSB therefore implemented an internal election as the best process for selecting the VSB chair, as well as vice chair and vice chair-elect. The primary requirements for chair were that one needed to have served on the VSB for at least two years before being elected. While falling short of a "meritocracy," we thought that the people who "did the work" and were committed to education and the VSB would be the best candidates for the leadership job. I was elected using this process.

In addition, the term of the chair was reduced to one year. With this reduced term, we also importantly thought that a hierarchy or progression in leadership needed to occur with more time "in office." For this reason, we also elected individuals to the positions of vice chair and a vice chair-elect. Tom Huber and Kellie Brown now occupy those positions, respectively. The idea is that movement throughout leadership in the VSB would be an escalation process over time, but that this team of three would work as an Executive Committee together to lead the VSB.

Presently, the Executive Committee of the VSB conferences every other week and are almost constantly in touch with ABS Vice President Bruce Perler. His job is critically important for us, as his previous role was as the ABS associate executive director for vascular surgery. As a past president of the SVS, past co-editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, and current co-editor of Rutherford's Vascular Surgery & Endovascular Therapy, Bruce is passionately dedicated to advocating for the interests of our specialty, and making sure that the VSB adheres to the principles of a board while exercising its autonomy. In addition, we are constantly focused on developing high quality, fair, and valid examinations of our trainees and vascular surgeons in such a manner that we assure the safety of our patients and the interests of our practitioners.

As part of this new process, the SVS/APDVS nominee remains an important liaison between the VSB and the ABS. This year, Rabih Chaer is the SVS representative to the ABS. We will, of course, lean on Rabih to help us communicate with the ABS. In addition, Ash Mansour has been selected to serve on the new ABS Board of Directors. He occupies one of 13 positions on this newly-created board, which oversees the workings of the five specialty boards of the ABS, including the VSB.

Based on my first two months as VSB chair, we are organizing and committing to serve the vascular surgery diplomates to the best of our abilities. While clearly serving in this role is an honor, I would add with this honor comes great responsibility (I almost quoted Spiderman, but just could not). I have had regular communication with the SVS president and executive director, the chair of the APDVS, as well as the chair of Surgical RRC. We are open to any changes that will galvanize what it means and how important it is to be a "board certified vascular surgeon." We will work with the vascular surgery community to assure the best process and best product of training in vascular surgery. I am energized to be a part of this process.

Gilbert R. Upchurch, Jr.
VSB Chair 2019-2020

VSB Director Spotlight


Kellie R. Brown, M.D.

Kellie R. Brown, M.D.
VSB Vice Chair-Elect

Dr. Kellie Brown is the vice chair-elect of the Vascular Surgery Board (VSB). She was elected to the VSB from the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society (MVSS) in 2017, when the VSB added five new positions to expand the specialty board and ensure that the perspective of a broad population of practicing vascular surgeons was included in VSB deliberations.

"I have a strong commitment to ensuring that the VSB continues to provide a fair, comprehensive, and effective certification process," said Dr. Brown, "and I am looking forward to ongoing improvement in the maintenance of certification process in response to feedback from our diplomates to ensure the process is convenient and meaningful."

Following college at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc. and medical school at The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Dr. Brown completed her residency at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a vascular surgery clinical fellowship at MCW.

Dr. Brown's current practice scope is vascular surgery, with clinical interests in education. She is the chief of vascular surgery at The Zablocki VA Medical Center, program director for MCW's Vascular Fellowship Program, and is the chief of staff-elect at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee. Dr. Brown also serves as a professor of surgery and radiology at MCW.

In her free time, Dr. Brown enjoys reading, biking, and travelling.

VSB Organization Chart

Vascular Surgery Board of Directors

Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr., M.D. (Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery)
- Chair, VSB
- Chair, Qualifying Exam Committee

Thomas S. Huber, M.D. (Southern Association for Vascular Surgery)
- Vice Chair, VSB
- Chair, Certifying Exam Committee

Kellie R. Brown, M.D. (Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society)
- Vice Chair-Elect

Bernadette Aulivola, M.D. (Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society)
- Chair, Communications Committee

Rabih A. Chaer, M.D. (Society for Vascular Surgery)

Ronald L. Dalman, M.D. (Society for Vascular Surgery)

Jason T. Lee, M.D. (Society for Vascular Surgery)

Marc E. Mitchell, M.D. (Eastern Vascular Society)
- Chair, Lifelong Learning Committee

C. Keith Ozaki, M.D. (New England Society for Vascular Surgery)

Vincent L. Rowe, M.D. (Western Vascular Society)
- Chair, VSITE Committee

Andres Schanzer, M.D. (Society for Vascular Surgery)

Malachi G. Sheahan III, M.D. (Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery)
- Chair, Education & Research Committee

VSB Organization Chart

You may be wondering how the Vascular Surgery Board operates as a specialty board of the ABS. There are 12 directors who make up the Vascular Surgery Board of Directors. The Executive Governance Committee includes the chair, vice chair-elect, an ex-officio representative from the ABS executive team, and an ABS staff member who serves as the VSB project manager.

There are six committees of the VSB. The Lifelong Learning Committee, Qualifying Exam Committee, VSITE Committee and Certifying Exam Committee are each responsible for the ongoing development and quality control of their respective examinations. Each committee has a subcommittee made up of volunteers to develop questions for each of our exams. These volunteers are not VSB directors, but are vascular diplomates from across the country who contribute their time to build upon and improve the VSB examination process, from residency through initial certification and beyond.

The Education and Research Committee is responsible for reviewing training issues and making recommendations for how to overcome and improve these issues. They serve as a line of communication for VSCORE, and contribute content to expand the VSCORE library of modules and educational materials. This committee also helps to identify relevant research topics and evaluate proposals in conjunction with the ABS Research Committee.

Finally, the Communications Committee is responsible for developing communications to vascular diplomates and VSB nominating organizations. This group also identifies speaking opportunities for presentation of board-related issues.

While these six committees are all populated by VSB directors, the examination subcommittees are almost entirely comprised of volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved with the VSB, you can email vsbcomms@absurgery.org at any time to indicate your interest and nominate yourself to be considered in the future. Please note that we will always accept volunteer applications, but there may not always be a spot available for you on a given committee.

2019 Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination Results

Results are in for the 2019 Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination! The exam was held on Sept. 16, 2019 at Pearson VUE testing centers across the country.

Of the 199 examinees in 2019, 176 passed, for a pass rate of 88.4%.

VS QE Pass Rates 2015-2019
VS QE Pass Rates 2015-2019

Congratulations to the vascular surgery candidates who are one step closer to their vascular surgery board certification!

2019 Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment Feedback

The first-ever Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment was available this fall from Sept. 7 – Nov. 4, 2019. At the end of the assessment, ABS administered a survey to obtain more detailed information about diplomate perceptions of the assessment. The survey received a 95% response rate from the vascular surgeons who completed the Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment.

Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment Feedback

Of the Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment takers who completed the survey:

  • 86% agree or strongly agree that the assessment was relevant to their practice
  • 79% agree or strongly agree that preparing for and taking this assessment will improve how they practice
  • 69% agree or strongly agree that they plan to change something in their practice based on what they learned in this assessment
  • 77% would recommend this assessment to a colleague
Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment Feedback

Of the Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment takers who completed the survey:

  • 85% agree or strongly agree that this was a fair assessment of knowledge for a certified vascular surgeon
  • 88% agree or strongly agree that the assessment material was timely for practice
  • 90% were able to complete the assessment easily, with respect to technical functionality
  • 93% thought the difficulty level of the assessment was "about right"
Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment Feedback

Of the Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment takers who completed the survey:

  • 73% agree or strongly agree that preparing for and taking this exam was a valuable use of their time
  • 90% agree or strongly agree that the rationales were useful in helping them understand the correct answers
  • 32% spent no time at all studying for this assessment, while an additional 57% studied for at least one hour but less than 40 hours
  • 64% spent zero days away from work in preparation for this assessment

Final results for the 2019 Vascular Surgery Continuous Certification Assessment are forthcoming.

History of the Vascular Surgery Board

The movement for certification in vascular surgery began in the 1970s under the leadership of Dr. Edwin J. Wylie.

VSB Directors

A Committee on Vascular Surgery was formed by the American Board of Surgery to investigate the issue, which met several times with representatives of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery. In 1981, the ABS requested and received approval from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to offer a certificate in vascular surgery.

The ABS offered a Certificate of Special Qualifications in vascular surgery as of 1982 and a Certificate of Added Qualifications in 1988. The Special Qualifications (practice) pathway was closed to new applicants in 1989, as the ABMS typically allows practice pathways to be open for only five years. Both certificates were issued through 1998 when the designations of "Added" and "Special" Qualifications were dropped and all certificates were designated as "Certification in Vascular Surgery."

The Vascular Surgery Board of the ABS was established in June 1998 with the support of leading vascular surgery societies. Vascular surgery became a primary specialty of the ABS in July 2006; as of that date, certification in general surgery is no longer a prerequisite for certification in vascular surgery.

The VSB-ABS defines and oversees all requirements and processes related to vascular surgery certification.

VSB Directors

Website Badges

A popular request that the ABS office receives from diplomates is for a version of our logo that diplomates may include on their website to display their certified status. Unfortunately, because the seals of the American Board of Surgery and the Vascular Board of the ABS are registered trademarks, we do not allow them to be used for promotional purposes on websites, brochures, letterhead, etc., by diplomates, institutions or others.

Vascular Surgery Website Badge

To remedy this issue and as a service to diplomates, ABS has developed a vascular surgery website badge that diplomates may now request and use on their website to proudly display that they are board certified by the Vascular Surgery Board of the American Board of Surgery.

To request a vascular surgery badge for use on your website, please contact our communications department. Please include in your email your full name and candidate ID for verification purposes. Badges are also available for all other ABS specialties.

Don't forget - diplomates may also promote their vascular surgery certification with personalized brochures created to be displayed in offices. Contact us to request your personalized PDF. Please include in your email the information that you would like displayed on your brochure (surgeon(s) name(s), name of practice, address, email, website, phone number, etc.).

What Do You Want to Hear from the VSB?

What do you want to hear from the VSB? What would be most helpful in a newsletter or in other outreach efforts?

We want our communications to be useful and relevant to our vascular diplomates. Do you want to hear more about what's going on at ABS, or more about what's going on specifically in the field of surgery? Do you want more visual content, like videos and infographics? Would you read an ABS blog?

As a reminder, we will always update you on your certification status — even if you unsubscribe from our newsletters and e-alerts, you will still receive notifications when you are due to complete an assessment or are missing any of your ongoing requirements. However, we want our other messages to be just as important and interesting to you, and would love your feedback on how we can make that happen.

Click here to answer a couple of quick questions about what you want to see from us.

  Vascular Surgery Board of The American Board of Surgery  
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  Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA | 215.568.4000