The American Board of surgery

The American Board of surgery

The American Board of Surgery (ABS) is an independent, non-profit organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded for the purpose of certifying surgeons who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge. Surgeons certified by the ABS, known as diplomates, have completed a minimum of five years of surgical residency training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. The ABS provides board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, paediatrics surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, hospice and palliative medicine, and complex general surgical oncology.

The ABS is composed of a board of directors representing the principal surgical organizations in the U.S. and is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

The American Board of Surgery was officially organized on January 9, 1937. The formation of the ABS was the result of a committee formed a year earlier by the American Surgical Association with representatives from the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association and the Southern, Western, Pacific Coast and New England Surgical Associations. The leaders of these organizations, including such figures as Drs. Edward Archibald, Evarts Ambrose Graham and Allen Whipple, had recognized for some time the need to differentiate well-trained surgeons who had limited their practice to surgery from doctors in general practice. They also felt that surgery as a field of medicine had matured into a full-time specialty.

Get Call Back from our MBBS Abroad Counsellors

The committee established the basic principles for a national certifying body for surgeons practicing in the U.S. The committee decided that the ABS should be formed of members from the represented organizations an, donce organized, it would establish a comprehensive certification process. These findings and recommendations were approved by the cooperating societies, leading to the board’s formation in 1937. This was done to protect the public and improve the specialty. A Surgeon uses operative measures to treat disease, injuries, and disorders or repair tissues or organs. Surgeons are responsible for the diagnosis and preoperative, operative, and postoperative management of patient care. During the course of the operation, the surgeon makes important decisions about the patient’s health, safety, and welfare, working in cooperation with other members of the surgical team. To acknowledge the specialized activities and interests of individuals wanting to become surgeons, the American Board of Surgery offers primary certification in Surgery and Vascular Surgery. A variety of subspecialty certificates are offered.


Certification in one of the following subspecialties requires additional training and assessment as specified by the board.

Complex General Surgical Oncology

A surgeon trained in Complex General Surgical Oncology has expertise in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients with cancer, especially those with rare, unusual, and/or complex cancers. These surgeons typically work in cancer centers or academic institutions and coordinate patient care with other cancer specialists. They also provide community outreach in cancer prevention and education, as well as lead cancer studies.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine

A surgeon in Hospice and Palliative Medicine has special knowledge and skills to prevent and relieve the suffering experienced by patients with life-limiting illnesses. This specialist works with an interdisciplinary hospice or palliative care team to optimize quality of life while addressing the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of both patient and family.

Pediatric Surgery

A pediatric surgeon is a general surgeon who has expertise in the diagnosis and care of premature and newborn infants, children and adolescents. This care includes the detection and correction of fetal abnormalities, repair of birth defects, treatment of injuries in children and adolescents, and the treatment of pediatric cancer patients, as well as conditions treated in adults by general surgeons, such as appendicitis, hernias, acid reflux and bowel obstructions.

Surgery of the Hand

A surgeon trained in Surgery of the Hand has expertise in the surgical, medical and rehabilitative care of patients with diseases, injuries, and disorders affecting the hand, wrist and forearm. Common conditions treated by a hand surgeon include carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger fingers, ganglia (lumps), sports injuries to the hand and wrist, and hand injuries involving cut tendons, nerves and arteries. Hand surgeons may be general surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons or plastic surgeons who have received additional training in this area.

Surgical Critical Care

A surgeon trained in Surgical Critical Care has expertise in the diagnosis, treatment and support of critically ill and injured patients, particularly trauma victims and patients with serious infections and organ failure. In addition, these surgeons coordinate patient care among the patient’s primary physician, critical care staff and other specialists.

A look at the country,USA-

USA is a country primarily located in North America, consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million square kilometers), it is the world’s third- or fourth-largest country by total area.[d] With a population of more than 328 million people, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.The United States is a federal republic and a representative democracy with three separate branches of government, including a bicameral legislature. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States (OAS), NATO, and other international organizations. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The United States ranks high in international measures of economic freedom, quality of life, and quality of higher education. Despite considerable income and wealth disparities in comparison to other rich countries, it ranks high in measures of socioeconomic performance and receives relatively high ratings for human rights. The United States is one of the world’s most racially and ethnically diverse nations, often called a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Its population has been profoundly shaped by centuries of immigration. A highly developed country, the United States accounts for approximately a quarter of global GDP, and is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP. By value, the United States is the world’s largest importer and the second-largest exporter of goods. Although its population is only 4.2% of the world total, it holds 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country. Making up more than a third of global military spending, it is the foremost military power in the world and is a leading political, cultural, and scientific force internationally.

The American Board of surgery certification-

Certification by the American Board of Surgery is a voluntary process, meant to designate individuals who have met the highest standards of education, training and knowledge in surgery. Board certification is different from medical licensure, which is required by law for an individual to practice medicine.

Upon completion of training at an accredited U.S. or Canadian residency program, a surgeon may apply to the ABS for certification. The applicant’s training and operative experience are reviewed by the ABS, and the director of the training program must also attest to the applicant’s professionalism and ethics, as well as surgical skills. If these are all satisfactory, the applicant is admitted to the ABS examinations required for certification. Upon successful completion of these examinations, the surgeon becomes a diplomate of the ABS.

Certification in general surgery is a prerequisite for certification in pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, hospice and palliative medicine, and complex general surgical oncology.

The American Board of surgery MOC

Maintenance of certification

To maintain certification, diplomates must demonstrate ongoing professionalism and commitment to continuing medical education (through seminars, lectures, reading of journals) and pass a written examination. The ABS is currently transitioning from recertification at 10-year intervals to Maintenance of Certification (MOC), a broader professional development program with more frequent requirements for learning and assessment during the 10-year certification cycle.

The American Board of surgery verification

Online Verification

To verify a surgeon’s current status with the ABS, please use Check a Certification. This website serves as primary source verification.

Note: In 2014, the ABS shifted its certificates from the academic year to the calendar year. All current ABS certificates now expire on Dec. 31. More details

The ABS can verify certification in surgery (general surgery), vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine.

To verify certification in other specialties, visit the ABMS website at Note there may be a lag between ABS real-time data and what is displayed on the ABMS website. Contacting the ABS Office

You may also call the ABS office at 215-568-4000 to obtain verbal verification. Have the surgeon’s identifying information (first, middle and last name) ready before you call. Certificate number may also be needed. Telephone inquiries are limited to five verifications per phone call, one phone call per day.

For written verification, use Check a Certification or contact the ABS in writing by email, fax (215-563-5718) or mail. Written verifications are sent by mail only (not fax or email)—please provide your mailing address and as much identifying information about the surgeon as possible. No fee is charged for this service. There is no limit to the number of written verifications you may request.

Information Provided

The ABS considers the personal information and examination record of an individual to be private and confidential. In response to an inquiry, the ABS will provide a general statement indicating the person’s current situation in regard to ABS certification, along with his or her certification history.

The ABS reports all individuals as having one of two statuses: Certified or Not Certified. In addition, an individual may be described as In The Examination Process, Clinically Inactive, Retired, Suspended, or Revoked. Information regarding an individual’s Continuous Certification status will also be provided; surgeons are enrolled in the ABS Continuous Certification Program upon certification or recertification after July 2005. This status is reported using one of three different designations: Meeting Requirements, Not Meeting Requirements, or Not Required to Participate.

The American Board of surgery exams

The General Surgery Qualifying Examination (QE) is offered annually as the first of two exams required for board certification in general surgery. The exam consists of about 300 multiple-choice questions designed to evaluate a surgeon’s knowledge of general surgical principles and applied science. See also the exam’s content outline (pdf).

Typically, it is a one-day exam lasting approximately 8 hours and is held at computer-testing facilities across the U.S. The exam is administered in four 115-minute sessions, with optional 10-minute breaks after sessions one and three, and one longer 40-minute break offered between the second and third session. Once a session has concluded, you will not be able to revisit those questions.

Results are posted approximately 4 weeks after the exam; you will be notified by email when they are available. The exam’s contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disclosed in any manner.

7-Year Limit

Individuals who complete general surgery residency after July 1, 2012, will have no more than 7 academic years immediately following residency to become certified (i.e., pass both the QE and CE). See Exam Opportunities below for details.

To be eligible for this exam, applicants must:

  • Accredited Program: Have satisfactorily completed a residency training program in general surgery accredited by the ACGME or RCPSC. (See also Osteopathic Trainees Policy)
  • Applicants who will not complete their residency training by June 30 of their chief year must notify the ABS. All training must be completed by end of August to be eligible for that year’s exam.
  • Training: Have met all ABS training requirements for graduate education in general surgery.
  • Operative Log: Submit an operative experience report that is deemed acceptable to the ABS, not only as to volume, but as to spectrum and complexity of cases. See training requirements for specific operative experience requirements.
  • Professional Activity: Be actively engaged in the practice of general surgery as indicated by holding full surgical privileges in this discipline at an accredited health care institution, or be currently engaged in pursuing additional graduate education in a component of general surgery or other recognized surgical specialty. An exception to this requirement is active military duty.
  • Documentation of ACLS, ATLS, FLS and FES: Submit copies of certificates showing that certification in each of these programs was successfully achieved. Applicants do not need to be currently certified in these programs.
  • Other Required Documentation: For residents who trained in multiple programs, documentation of satisfactory completion for years in prior programs must be submitted. For international medical graduates, a photocopy of an ECFMG certificate.
  • Medical License: While possession of a medical license is not required to apply for the QE, candidates must possess a full and unrestricted U.S. or Canadian medical license to take the Certifying Exam. Applicants are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.


Where do I find the application forms?

The online application process for ABS exams is posted each year in early spring under My Records and also under each exam's section of the website. A notice will be posted on the homepage when they become available. Once logged in, you will see your Status of Application page where you will access all of the application forms and check the status of your application.

What is the actual deadline for electronically-submitted application materials— when they are received by the ABS?

Application materials must be submitted online via the ABS website by close of business day on the application deadline. All applicants are responsible for their own applications and will not be notified if items are missing or incorrect. If you have not received an automated email that your application is complete after 4 weeks, check the Status of Application page via your online ABS portal.

Which items do I have to submit by the initial deadline to avoid the late application fee?

To avoid the late application fee, the following items must be submitted via the ABS website by close of business day on the application deadline: (1) application form ; (2) operative report ; (3) signature form ; and (4) application fee . Note: The total application fee required is based on when you submitted all required materials via the ABS website.

What do I do if I am having problems with the online application process?

Please send an email to the IT staff or call the ABS office at 215-568-4000.