In 1937, the ABS was founded by the leading surgical organizations of
the time, including the American Surgical Association and the ACS.
ABS MOC PROGRAM
PURPOSES OF THE ABS
To conduct examinations of
acceptable candidates who seek
certification or maintenance
of certification by the board
To issue certificates to all
candidates meeting the
board’s requirements and
satisfactorily completing its
To improve and broaden
the opportunities for the
graduate education and
training of surgeons
Source: American Board of Surgery. About us.
Available at: www.absurgery.org/default.
jsp?abouthome. Accessed May 7, 2015.
Surgeons (ACS). The leaders of these organizations realized that surgery had evolved into a full-time specialty and recognized the need
to differentiate between formally trained surgeons and physicians in
general practice. This concept was developed with the intention of
both protecting the public and improving the specialty. The Advisory
Board for Medical Specialties was formed in 1933 as the umbrella organization for all certifying boards, becoming the American Board of
Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 1970. Today, certification by an ABMS
member board is recognized as the standard for allopathic physicians
who practice in the U.S.
As set forth in its mission statement, “The American Board of
Surgery serves the public and the specialty of 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.” 1 The purposes of the
ABS are highlighted in the sidebar on this page.
ABS certification is based upon a process of education, evaluation,
and assessment. Accredited training, broad operative experience,
and high ethical standards have always been core requirements of
ABS certification. As specialties in addition to general surgery have
been established within the ABS, certification processes have been
developed using these requirements as a framework. These specialties include pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, hand surgery,
surgical critical care, and complex general surgical oncology. Today,
through its board of directors, component boards, and advisory
councils, the ABS includes representation from 39 different surgical
societies, as well as three members elected at large and one public
member. Settings standards for board certification is a privilege of
self-regulation that the American public has bestowed on the medical and surgical professions.
Recertification takes hold
In its first three decades, ABS certification, once achieved, was valid
for a surgeon’s entire professional career. In the 1970s, however, the
ABS Board of Directors recognized that surgical practice was evolving rapidly and determined that it was important for diplomates to
demonstrate to the public that they were remaining current with
changes in medical knowledge and patient care. The ABS became the