Orthopedic Surgery Eligibility

Updated October 2019

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

ABPS General Requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. Be a graduate of a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international allopathic or osteopathic college of medicine. International graduates must also hold a valid Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certificate.
  3. Hold a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States, U.S. territories or Canada.

Orthopedic Surgery Training and Experience – Required prior to Part 1 Written exam:

  1. All applicants must 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 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The ABPS accepts ALL medical residencies approved by the RCPSC, including approved residencies outside Canada.
  2. Academic Pathway (if residency completed outside of US or 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 residency 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 2.1. above must submit documentation of satisfactory completion of an orthopedic surgery residency outside the U.S. or Canada verified by the Program Director/institution, and letter from the applicant’s current Department Chair or Program Director verifying the resident teaching experience.

Orthopedic Surgery Training and Experience – Required for approval for Part 2 Oral exam:

  1. Provide evidence of active staff privileges for a minimum of eighteen (18) consecutive months (post-residency/fellowship training) in a single AOA-accredited or JCAHO-accredited institution. Documentation on letterhead from a hospital administrator is required and should be provided at the time of application, or no later than two months preceding a scheduled Oral (Part 2) exam.
  2. Candidate must submit a list of all orthopedic surgical procedures performed in the twelve (12) month period preceding the application, or up to two months preceding a scheduled Oral (Part 2) exam, and demonstrate evidence of having performed a minimum of one hundred (100) orthopedic surgical procedures as the primary surgeon during this period. Documentation on letterhead from a hospital administrator attesting to the validity of the list is required.
  3. Candidates must meet the above requirements and pass the Written (Part 1) exam before being granted approval to sit for the Oral (Part 2) exam.

Additional Application Requirements:

  1. Provide two (2) letters of recommendation from Diplomates of an ABPS, ABMS, AOA or RCPSC board of certification. All letters of recommendation must be signed by the author, printed on letterhead, dated within the twelve-month period just prior to the submission of the application, and must include author contact and board certification information.
  2. All U.S. physicians must perform and submit a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank. For information, visit www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov. All Canadian physicians must request a Testament Statement from each province in which a license is held verifying that there have been no disciplinary actions against the applicant.
  3. Submit a current curriculum vitae, which includes medical school, degrees earned, and work experience, in chronological order.
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