American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

The Diplomate E-Newsletter Fall 2021

Posted On: December 8, 2021

Immediate Past President’s Message

This time last year, I was writing to you about my goals as the new President of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). While my term as President is now complete, I’m proud of what the ABOS has accomplished over the last 12 months, especially considering the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest accomplishment for the ABOS in 2021 may be that we were able to offer in-person Oral Examinations. While the in-person examinations took place in October instead of July, there were still more than 500 Examinees and nearly 200 Examiners at the Palmer House in Chicago. This was a smaller group than usual, as Examinees were first evaluated remotely with a Case-Based Examination without them being present. Some became Board Certified or Recertified through that method while the rest came to Chicago. Vaccinations, masking, and social distancing were required, and we were able to proceed with the Oral Examinations safely and effectively. The ABOS is very proud of the Oral Examinations, and we regularly have other Medical Boards observe our processes. Thank you to the ABOS staff and volunteers for your hard work! The ABOS plans to return to the traditional July schedule in 2022 and offer in-person Oral Examinations.

Examinees taking ABOS Computer-Based Recertification Examinations in 2021 had an easier time with scheduling than did their counterparts in 2020. Traditionally, the ABOS Part I Examination is offered one day each year. In 2020, it was offered over several days due to limited availability of slots for the scheduling of the examinations. In 2021, all Candidates were able to schedule their Examination on the intended single day of administration. The Computer-Based Recertification Examinations and Subspecialty Examinations took place as planned with a reasonable scheduling process and without any incidents.

The ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) Pathway continues to grow in popularity. Nearly 14,000 Diplomates participated in 2021. We continue to hear that so many of you not only enjoy the process but have also utilized the ABOS WLA Knowledge Sources to change how you practice medicine based on Sources that you select. That is fantastic.

While my title has been President, much of work has been done in tandem with Vice President Dr. Jack Flynn. Few people work harder than him. Dr. Flynn and I will continue to serve the Board for another three years as Senior Directors, and I know the Board will be in good hands with new President Dr. Gregory Mencio and Vice President Dr. Ann Van Heest.

I plan on spending my remaining time on the Board working on several projects. One focus will be to improve our volunteer program. We depend on hundreds of volunteers each year, from Question Writers to Oral Examiners. We are always looking not only for new volunteers but also for ways to recognize our dedicated group. Stay tuned for more information in The Diplomate.

Michael S. Bednar, MD
Immediate Past President, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

President’s Message

It is an honor to be the new President of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). Dr. Ann Van Heest, ABOS Vice President, and I are committed to continue to make Board Certification and Maintenance of Certification relevant without being overly burdensome, while also making sure that we stay true to the Board’s core mission of protecting the public.

Despite the unique and unforeseen challenges that we have faced over the past two years, we felt that our mission to protect the public by ensuring the competency of our Candidates and Diplomates has never been more important. I want to thank our Past President Dr. Michael Bednar and Vice President Dr. Jack Flynn for their outstanding leadership and ability to deal effectively with the uncertainties created by the pandemic that impacted all our processes. We plan to continue the work that they so expertly shepherded and hope to match their skill and dedication.

As practicing orthopaedic surgeons who must adhere to the same certification and continuing certification standards as our fellow Diplomates, the Board is committed to making our certification pathways more transparent and less onerous. We are fortunate to be supported by a talented staff committed to the same goals. In the year ahead, we will continue to develop some of the remote processes implemented over the past two years to improve and streamline our programs in pursuit of the most effective methods to assess surgeon knowledge, skills, and behavior.

While we plan to return to Chicago in July 2022 for the traditional Part II and Oral Recertification Examinations, the ABOS has other options, which we used in 2020 and 2021, should we not be able to gather as planned. Continuing certification has likely been changed forever, based on the popularity of the ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) Pathway. Some 14,000 Diplomates participated in the ABOS WLA in 2021, and we will obviously focus resources here to continue to improve this Recertification Pathway. We will also continue to develop and support other options including nine Practice-Profiled Computer-Based Recertification Exams as well the Oral Examination.

Another point of focus of the Board for the next year will be on resident education. While many people think of ABOS as the Board-Certification organization, we have been setting standards for orthopaedic surgery education since our founding. Through the leadership of Dr. Van Heest and ABOS President-Elect Dr. April Armstrong, the ABOS GME committee has launched the ABOS Resident Dashboard to the growing number of orthopaedic surgery residents participating in the ABOS Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior (ABOS KSB) program, allowing those residents to get feedback on their Surgical Skills and Professional Behavior. The Board has also been working with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) for the past two years, to link the Orthopaedic In-Training Examination (OITE) and the ABOS Part I Certification Exam, in hopes of making the knowledge component (OITE score) of ABOS KSB more relevant to performance on the ABOS Part I Examination.

Always, our Board will continue to support diversity and inclusion among our directors, staff, and volunteers. I believe we have been particularly responsible in considering our directors-elect since I have been on the board in recognizing the importance of race and gender in addition to geography, practice type, and orthopaedic specialty. We have 20 practicing orthopaedic surgeons plus one public member on the Board. All these individuals are leaders in their fields, and I respect their opinions. In the year ahead, I plan to do a lot of listening—to the collective wisdom of this group of colleagues and friends as we consider issues important to the core values of our profession and our mission to protect the public.
I also want to know what you think. So please feel free to reach out to me at with any ideas you have.

Thank you, and I look forward to a great year!

Gregory A. Mencio, MD
President, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Executive Medical Director’s Report

It brings me great sadness to report on the recent passing of longtime American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) employee Brenda Kulp. She will be missed by Staff, Directors, and ABOS Diplomates.

This is the second time that I have had the pleasure of working with Brenda. She was a nurse, and we worked together in the orthopaedic surgery department at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital for nine years. While working at Wake Forest, I became an ABOS Director. After serving on the Board for several years, I was delighted to learn that Brenda had been offered the job of Professional Education Specialist at the ABOS. When I later became the Executive Medical Director at the ABOS, I got to see her in a different role. However, in all situations, Brenda was always the consummate professional, whether talking to patients or with Diplomates.

Brenda worked at the ABOS for nearly 10 years and continued to contribute right up until her passing. Brenda’s role encompassed many areas. She was a liaison to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Board of Medical Specialties, and to other professional organizations. Her background as a nurse helped with much of her work at the ABOS. Brenda worked with our Research Committee, helping Directors on the Committee as well as those who requested ABOS data for research studies. She also helped to manage the ABOS CME/SAE approval program, making sure that each met the high standards of the ABOS. She would regularly staff ABOS’s table at the annual Orthopaedic Trauma Association meeting, seeing colleagues that she knew for decades. In addition, she was instrumental in developing communications for ABOS Diplomates.

Most of all, Brenda was a good person. She would often mentor employees and would always lend an ear when a staff member needed assistance. Brenda brought elegance and passion to every encounter – she was a true treasure.

Brenda is survived by her daughter Lauren, two grand-fur-babies, and three siblings. The family has asked that donations be made to a foundation in Brenda’s name to benefit those impacted by ALS:

David F. Martin, MD
Executive Medical Director, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


Knowledge Sources for the 2022 American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) Pathway will be posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. You can start reviewing and selecting Knowledge Sources at that time. The Assessment Window, during which you can answer questions, will be from April 5th–May 24th, 2022. This year, the ABOS has added a new category from which you can select Knowledge Sources: General Principles. This category consists of Sources that are applicable to all orthopaedic surgeons, no matter their subspecialty.

ABOS Executive Medical Director Dr. David F. Martin will host a webinar on the 2022 ABOS WLA Pathway on January 11, 2022, at 7:30 pm. To register, go to

The 2022 ABOS WLA Pathway is open to Diplomates whose Board Certification expires in 2027 or before if they have already started the pathway and begun earning Quality Years. Those whose Certificates expire in 2028 and who have not yet started ABOS WLA Pathway must start in 2022, or they will have to wait until their next MOC cycle to participate. Diplomates whose Certificates expire in 2029-2031 should participate this year to have the most opportunities to be successful. Diplomates who passed the 2021 ABOS Part II Examination are encouraged to consider this opportunity and learn more about this Knowledge Assessment Pathway. Those whose Certificates expire in 2032 or later cannot begin yet. To successfully complete the ABOS WLA Pathway, you must earn five Quality Years by correctly answering 24 of the 30 questions that are administered each year.

As a reminder, Diplomates can still elect to take an Oral Recertification Examination or Computer-Based Recertification Examination as a Knowledge Assessment Pathway, but the Practice-Profiled Examinations will be offered every other year starting in 2023.

Please contact your ABOS Certification Specialist with any questions concerning the ABOS WLA Pathway.


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