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Orthopedic Surgery Eligibility

Updated October 2015

To be eligible for certification in Orthopedic Surgery through the Board of Certification in Orthopedic Surgery (BCOS), the applicant must:

ABPS General Requirements:

  1. Submit an Orthopedic Surgery application with required processing fee, two (2) passport-size photographs taken within the last 90 days, and a notarized signature.
  2. Be in conformity with the Code of Ethics of the American Board of Physician Specialties, be known in his/her community as an ethical member of the profession, and be an active specialist in Orthopedic Surgery.
  3. Be a graduate of a recognized college of medicine confirmed by a copy of an allopathic/osteopathic degree or a letter of verification from the institution where the degree was earned. In the case of foreign medical schools, an English translation of the document is also required. Graduates of foreign medical schools must also include a copy of their Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certificate. Canadian medical schools and medical training programs are considered equivalent to U.S. medical schools and medical training programs.
  4. Hold a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States or its territories or in Canada and submit copies of all licenses. License(s) must include date of expiration.
  5. Submit current curriculum vitae which includes medical school experiences and degrees earned in chronological order.

Orthopedic Surgery-Specific Requirements:

  1. Have completed both a PGY-1 program or accredited internship and an Orthopedic Surgery residency program approved by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The ABPS accepts ALL medical residencies approved by the RCPSC, including approved residencies outside Canada.
    1. An Orthopedic surgeon who completed his or her graduate medical education outside of the United States or Canada and does not meet the requirement above may be eligible, provided he or she has been engaged as a full-time teaching faculty member in an ACGME accredited orthopedic surgery residency program for a minimum of four continuous years immediately preceding application and meets all other eligibility requirements.
    2. Applicants qualifying under 1. A. above must submit documentation of satisfactory completion of an orthopedic surgery residency outside the U.S. or Canada verified by the Program Director and institution, and letters from the applicant’s current Department Chair and Program Director verifying the resident teaching experience.
  2. Provide evidence of active staff privileges for a minimum of two (2) years (post-residency) in an AOA-accredited or JCAHO-accredited institution. Documentation on letterhead from a hospital administrator is required.
  3. Demonstrate evidence of having performed a minimum of 200 surgical procedures on one’s own initiative in Orthopedic Surgery. Documentation on letterhead from a hospital administrator is required.
  4. Submit a list of surgical procedures performed for the two-year period prior to application.
  5. Submit ten (10) complete case reports in accordance with the case report requirements furnished by the BCOS. Case reports must be no older than twelve (12) months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is received by ABPS.

Additional Application Requirements:

  1. Submit two (2) letters of recommendation from Diplomates of an ABPS, American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS), or AOA-recognized board of certification. All letters of recommendation must be printed on letterhead, must be dated within the twelve months prior to the submission of the application, and must include an original signature, author contact information for the author, and should indicate the board certification(s) held by the author. Copies are not acceptable. These letters do not need to be mailed directly to ABPS, but can be included with the applicant’s materials and certification application.
  2. U.S. physicians must do a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank and submit a sealed (unopened envelope) copy of the report as part of the application process. For information on performing a self-query of the Bank, go to the website www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov. All Canadian physicians must request and submit a testament statement from each province in which a license is held, verifying that there have been no disciplinary actions against the applicant.
  3. Sign and submit the ABPS Disclosure and Authorization to obtain Criminal Background Reports form.
  4. Sign and submit the ABPS Examinations Complaints and Appeals Process form.
  5. Payment of appropriate fees. To view the fee schedule, click here.

The BCOS recommends that the applicant keep a copy of all application documents submitted to the ABPS.

Case Report Requirements

  1. Case reports must be typewritten. Photocopies of typewritten case reports are acceptable.
  2. Case reports must be double-spaced on standard 8.5″ x 11″ white paper.
  3. Case reports must be compiled in a hard, report style binder, or a three-ringed notebook.
  4. The applicant must sign each case report.
  5. An index shall be placed at the front of the reports indicating the type of case (diagnosis) and the page number on which the case can be found. To view sample index and verification form, click here.
  6. Confirmation of the validity of the reports by hospital administrator, medical records director, or whoever performs such duties at the facility. This must be on official letterhead verifying that you were the physician treating the patient in each case on the date stated. If the applicant’s cases reflect work at more than one institution, then separate letters must be submitted verifying the cases from each institution. This validation must be notarized and signed. (Refer to sample index/verification form.)
  7. Case reports shall contain the following information:
    The applicant must submit four (4) separately compiled copies of ten (10) case reports in the following format:

    1. For patient #, list the same number as the case number (Refer to sample index and verification form.)
    2. Date of admission and date of discharge
    3. Admitting diagnosis
    4. Final diagnosis
    5. Complaint
    6. History
    7. Physical and laboratory findings
    8. Summarization of the important facts regarding the case acts as the most essential part of the case report and must describe the case in such a manner as to convey to the BCOS Credentials Committee the vital facts regarding the diagnosis, care, end results obtained, etc.

Case reports must be carefully prepared, as they are subjected to detailed scrutiny. Reports should be accurate, well written, diversified, and properly descriptive. If they are not submitted in the format described above, they will be returned to the applicant, resulting in an incomplete file. The BCOS Credentials Committee reserves the right to seek additional details for any case it deems necessary.