American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

ABOS Statements on Coronavirus--Updated 6/2/20

Posted On: June 2, 2020

Moving Forward Together

Our collective experience with COVID-19 has added a new layer of complexity and uncertainty to all of our professional lives – and that includes the Board Certification process. Like you, the team at the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) desires assurance and a clear path forward.

These are uncertain times and being able to adapt to changing circumstances is more valuable than our need for certainty. Admittedly, our path forward is less clear than it has been in the past, but the ABOS remains steadfast in our commitment to support Residents, Candidates, Diplomates, Volunteers, Staff, and the public.

As we emerge from this national crisis, our goal is to be flexible while staying true to our mission to serve the best interests of the public, our patients, and our profession. The ABOS understands that you also prioritize the safety of your patients, your family, and your community. As such, the ABOS wants to be responsive to your need to serve them and does not want to unnecessarily add stress or complications to your lives.

While these are uncertain times, some things are certain:

  • We remain committed to continuing to serve and continuing to do the right thing.
  • We will move forward when it is safe to do so, together.
  • The Board Certification and Recertification processes and schedules have changed and may continue to change based on the evolution of the current pandemic.

Thank you for your commitment and cooperation. We will respond as quickly as possible to the changing landscape and will share updates regarding ABOS examination procedures and timelines as soon as decisions are made.

See below for specific updates regarding the changes that the ABOS has made thus far.

Changes to 2020 ABOS Oral Examinations

June 2, 2020 5:00 pm

The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) to reconsider the 2020 ABOS Oral Examination. In determining the best path forward, the ABOS has carefully considered both the safety of our examinees, volunteers, and staff; and the best interest of the public we serve and the medical profession we represent.

Based on all of those factors, the ABOS Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to transition from an in-person ABOS Oral Examination to a new online ABOS Case Based Examination for 2020. This will still enable the ABOS to evaluate each Examinee’s surgical practice. This examination format will allow the ABOS to perform an in-depth multi-stage evaluation of each Examinee’s practice remotely, eliminating the potential health risks associated with in-person gatherings. The Board anticipates that the in-person ABOS Oral Examination will resume in 2021.

It is important to note that despite this change, the deadline for submitting information on your 12 Selected Cases has not changed. Examinees must upload the required documentation and pay the Assessment Fee by 1 pm ET on June 12, 2020. The late deadline is 1 pm ET on June 19, 2020. No changes to the uploaded documents or images can be made after 1 pm ET on June 19th.

Those who have made any travel arrangements to attend the 2020 ABOS Oral Examination in Chicago in July can cancel them.

The 2020 ABOS Case Based Examination will consist of three stages:

Stage One
In the first stage, Examiners will review the documents related to the 12 selected cases remotely, without the Examinee present. The ABOS has developed this examination format over the last several years and found this to be a reliable and valid method to evaluate many Examinees’ practices. While this remote case based evaluation without the Examinee present is generally effective, there will be some Examinees who have practices which are not amenable to evaluation with this method alone. In addition, there will be some Examinees for whom the ABOS determines that this evaluation may need to be supplemented to better understand their cases. Those Examinees will take part in a second stage of the process. All Examinees will be notified in early September as to whether they will participate in Stage Two.

Stage Two
The second stage will consist of a remote case based oral examination, consisting of two one-hour sessions for each Examinee. In each of these two sessions, the Examinee will be interacting with two Examiners over a web-based platform so that Examinees in Stage Two will be examined by four Examiners. This stage will supplement the review done by Examiners in Stage One. These sessions will be scheduled during late September/early October. Additional information concerning these sessions will be communicated by the end of June.

Stage Three
A third stage of evaluation will be conducted by the ABOS Board of Directors who will review the materials provided by all Examinees and Examiners in the first two stages.

If, through this process, the ABOS Board of Directors is unable to conclude that an Examinee has met the standards for ABOS Board Certification, then the Examinee will participate in the 2021 ABOS Oral Examination with no additional Examination Fee.

The ABOS will host a webinar on June 23 at 7 pm ET to further discuss the ABOS Case Based Examination. To register, click here. The webinar will be recorded and posted to for those Examinees who are unable to participate at that time.

Specific Date of 2020 ABOS Part II Examination

May 15, 2020 11:30 am

The ABOS continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19, including effects on travel and the ability to conduct the ABOS Oral Examination in July in Chicago. Therefore, we are not yet able to release the specific dates that Candidates are assigned to at this time. ABOS Oral Examination Candidates will be notified as soon as plans for the examination have been confirmed.

As a reminder, you must upload and finalize all of your case documentation and case summary documents and images and pay the examination fee by 1:00 pm ET on June 12, 2020. There is a late deadline, with a $350 late fee, on June 19 at 1:00 pm ET. Even if there are changes in the administration of the examination because of COVID-19, the upload deadlines will not change.

Examination Window Extended for ABOS Part I Examination

April 24, 2020 12:00 pm

The ABOS has made the decision to extend the examination administration window for the 2020 ABOS Part I Examination in hopes that additional examination dates will provide opportunities for all of our Candidates to sit for the ABOS Part I Examination in July 2020. The 2020 ABOS Part I Examination window will now run from Thursday, July 9th through Thursday, July 23rd.

Changes to the Case List Collection Period for the 2021 ABOS Part II Oral Examination

April 8, 2020 1:30 pm ET

The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) recognizes the sacrifices and contributions that orthopaedic surgeons are making in response to the current healthcare crisis that is affecting our nation. The ABOS continues to encourage all orthopaedic surgeons to take care of their patients, their families, and themselves first and foremost. We understand that schedules have been altered and that, for some individuals, current operative schedules may be limited. Others remain busy taking care of emergent cases.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant impact it has placed on healthcare practices across the country, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery has modified its approach for the 2021 Part II Oral Examination case list collection process. This modification was designed to help those individuals whose practice caseloads have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and ensure they can reach the caseload minimum without punishing those less impacted by the pandemic.

Candidates for the 2021 ABOS Part II Oral Examination must collect and submit all consecutive surgical cases that they perform as primary surgeon beginning January 1, 2020, for a minimum of six consecutive months. On July 1, 2020, if the Candidate has reached 250 surgical cases, he or she can cease collecting. If not, the Candidate will continue to collect cases until they have entered 250 consecutive surgical cases, or until September 30th, whichever comes first. This modification was designed to help those individuals whose practice caseloads have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, ensuring each Candidate every opportunity to reach the caseload minimum and effectively represent their typical practice pattern. A review of recent years demonstrated that given a 3-month downturn of cases without extending the collection period could have resulted in more than 200 candidates not reaching the minimum case load that would allow them to sit for the 2021 Part II Oral Examination.

Candidates are recommended to begin entering now those surgical cases already performed from January 1 through March 31, 2020. Candidates will continue to use the patient registration page to begin entry of each case, but patient email addresses are optional for cases operated January-March 2020: by checking the “Patient opts out” box, the system will not require an email address. Email addresses are still required, unless a patient declines, for cases operated beginning April 1st.

Please do not hesitate to call the ABOS office at 919-929-7103 with question or concerns.

ABOS WLA Assessment Window Opening April 1

March 25, 2020 3:00 pm ET

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to assist orthopaedic surgeons whose schedules may be altered, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) is pleased to announce that the administration window of the 2020 ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) Program will open early and be extended through June 1.

The ABOS WLA administration window will now run from Wednesday, April 1 at 9 am ET and stay open until 5 pm ET on June 1.

In addition, the ABOS will make the ABOS WLA program available to Diplomates who did not start the program last year. Diplomates who have ABOS Board Certification expiration dates between 2020 and 2025, and who did not participate in the 2019 ABOS WLA, may now participate beginning this year. Previously, they were not able to participate this year without having participated last year.

In the next few days, Diplomates will receive a more detailed email, based on their ABOS Certificate expiration date. That email will provide more specifics as we approach the first day of the ABOS WLA administration window.

American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Education Update

March 20, 2020 2:45 pm ET

The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) appreciates the stresses that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak have placed on the medical community and, in particular, physicians in various phases of their residency education. We understand that extraordinary efforts are being made to treat and monitor those exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, and we recognize the potential for disruptions in the educational process. Of course, our primary concern is for the health and well-being of physicians, the public, and our patients. The ABOS will continue to monitor the situation and will make every attempt to fully support faculty and residents involved in educational programs as they focus on this global crisis, both personally and professionally.

One potential solution is already in place. In recognition of the ongoing needs for flexibility in resident education, effective July 2018, the ABOS Rules and Procedures were changed to allow for six weeks of time away from education per year of residency. That time can be averaged over the five years of orthopaedic surgery residency training. This change in policy was made to allow for extended absences if needed.

We will work with Orthopaedic Residency Program Directors as this situation continues to evolve to better understand innovative ways to meet educational requirements. Our goal is to be flexible while staying true to our mission. The ABOS will make every attempt to allow physicians to focus on the needs of their community and minimize the impact on their ABOS Board Certification processes.

Thank you for your dedication and cooperation. We will keep you updated as we get more information and will respond as quickly as possible to the changing landscape.

Please do not hesitate to call the ABOS office at 919-929-7103 with question or concerns.

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Statement to Designated Institutional Officials:

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

ABOS Statement on Coronavirus

March 12, 2020 4:00 pm ET

Out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) staff, volunteers, their families, our patients, and the public, the ABOS is requesting that all staff and volunteers limit non-essential work and personal travel; specifically travel by airplane. This ABOS policy is effective through April 30 and will be updated as necessary. The ABOS is reaching out to volunteers who have committed to ABOS meetings taking place in March and April and will be assisting those individuals with alternative arrangements, focusing primarily on remote options.

The ABOS is closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. As of now, the ABOS is still moving forward as scheduled with the following 2020 ABOS assessments:

  • ABOS WLA (online assessment in April/May)
  • ABOS Part I Examination (July 9, 2020)
  • ABOS Oral Recertification Examinations (July 20, 2020)
  • ABOS Part II Oral Examinations (July 21-23, 2020)
  • ABOS Subspecialty Certification Examinations (August 11, 2020)
  • ABOS Computer-Based Recertification Examinations (August-September 2020)

The ABOS will continue to follow developments with this evolving issue and consult with the appropriate experts. If anything changes, affected Diplomates and Candidates will be contact via emailed and a message will be posted on the ABOS website. Please make sure your email address in the ABOS system is accurate. You can update it by logging in to your ABOS Diplomate Portal.


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