Surgery Eligibility

Revised March 2009

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

  1. Submit a Surgery application form, complete with required application 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 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 the 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.
  6. Have completed an ACGME-accredited PGY-1 program, or an AOA-accredited internship.
  7. Have completed an AOA-accredited Osteopathic residency or an ACGME-accredited residency in General Surgery.The ABPS now accepts all residencies accepted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). ABPS therefore now accepts all residencies approved by ACGME, AOA, or RCPSC. It should be noted that the ABPS accepts ALL medical residencies approved by the RCPSC, including approved residencies outside Canada.
  8. Submit an attestation from the Residency Training Program Director that the applicant is sufficiently trained to perform surgery.
  9. Submit three (3) letters of recommendation from Diplomates of an ABPS, AOA, or ABMS-recognized board of certification.  Letters of recommendation must be current (dated no more than one year prior to the date the application is received by the ABPS) and on letterhead stationery, which includes a telephone number.  Letters submitted on plain paper, with no address or telephone number of the signatory, are not acceptable.  The board requires original letters; copies are not acceptable. The BCS recommends that letters be sent to the applicant to be included with the other application documents.
  10. Submit verification of staff privileges, by means of a letter from the administrator of each hospital at which privileges are held, confirming good standing at that hospital.
  11. Submit a documented summary of a minimum of twenty (20) surgical cases, in which the applicant had the lead role in managing.  Case reports must be no older than twelve (12) months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is received by ABPS.  Case reports should only include information on the care and services provided by the applicant.  At the point where a patient’s care is transferred to another physician or facility, the applicant’s case presentation is complete. Click Here to download Sample Case reports.
  12. All 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. The report need not be submitted with the application but must be provided in order for the applicant to be approved to take the written examination. For information on performing a self-query of the Bank, go to the website www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov for information.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.
  13. All physicians must allow AAPS to perform a background check, attested by initialing the appropriate line on the application form.
  14. All physicians must submit the signed candidate appeal form.
  15. Payment of appropriate fees. To view the fee schedule, click here.

To have an application considered by the BCS Credentials Committee, all application documents must be compiled in a notebook. The BCS recommends that the applicant keep a copy of all application documents submitted to the ABPS.

Case Report Requirements

An applicant must submit four (4) separately compiled copies of twenty (20) case reports in the following format:

  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 in a hard, report style binder, or a three-ringed notebook.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. Case reports shall contain the following information:For patient #, list the same number as the case number (Refer to sample index and verification form.)
    1. Date of admission and date of discharge
    2. Admitting diagnosis
    3. Final diagnosis
    4. Complaint
    5. History
    6. Physical and laboratory findings
    7. Summarization of the important facts regarding the case acts as the most essential part of the case report and must describe the case to convey to the BCS Credential Committee the vital facts of the diagnosis, care, end results obtained, etc.

Case reports must be carefully prepared as they are subjected to detailed scrutiny.  Reports must be accurate, well written, diversified, and properly descriptive. The BCS Credentials Committee reserves the right to seek additional details for any case it deems necessary.

If they are not submitted in the format above, they will be returned to the applicant, resulting in an incomplete file.

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Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine