American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

The Diplomate E-Newsletter Spring 2022

Posted On: May 3, 2022

President’s Message

MOC: Low-Volume Surgical and Non-Operative Pathways

To become Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS), you must be in the active practice of orthopaedic surgery. To sit for the ABOS Part II Oral Examination, you must have performed at least 35 surgeries during the 6-month surgical case collection program. However, once you are Board Certified, you can recertify even if you have a limited or nonsurgical practice.

For Diplomates who are no longer performing surgeries, it is still beneficial to participate in the ABOS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program. Many—but not all—Diplomates in non-surgical practices are in the latter stages of their careers. Some continue to see patients. Others are active doing Independent Medical Evaluations (IMEs) or insurance reviews. As the field of orthopaedic surgery continues to evolve, it is important for all orthopaedic surgeons to remain current with the changes and developments. The Knowledge Assessment portion of MOC, whether a computer examination, an oral examination, or the ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment Pathway (ABOS WLA), shows that a Diplomate’s knowledge base of surgical and non-surgical interventions is staying current. The required Continuing Medical Education and Self-Assessment Examination credits show the public that a Diplomate is committed to life-long learning.

For those Diplomates who are full-time administrators or otherwise engaged in non-patient-facing positions, whether in a community or university setting, maintaining ABOS Board Certification demonstrates to orthopaedic colleagues, nurses, and co-workers that a Diplomate recognizes the value of continuous learning and self-improvement.

While some may think that the ABOS MOC process is overly burdensome, the fact is that many of our Diplomates are already performing some of the requirements of the process. Most ABOS Diplomates are required to earn Continuing Medical Education activity credits to satisfy their individual state’s licensure requirements. The ABOS does additionally stipulate that 40 of these credits be obtained thru Self-Assessment Examinations. Beyond the continuing education portion of MOC, the ABOS also requires that each Diplomate submit an Application and Case List as a measure of performance in practice, once every 10 years.

The Application requests standard information concerning practice and hospital privilege information, and the case list is a compilation of all surgical procedures performed by the diplomate, starting with the first surgical case of the calendar year and extending through September 30th, or up to 75 cases, whichever comes first. For Diplomates who anticipate having fewer than 35 surgical cases during the collection period or who are not performing surgery, there are alternative pathways and requirements. Diplomates in these categories should reach out to their Certification Specialist early in the collection period to discuss options.

The ABOS has gone to great lengths to create options for all Diplomates, respectful of their practice situations and careers, to maintain their important ABOS Board Certification status, and we are committed to continuing to explore ways to streamline and improve our processes.

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


Executive Medical Director’s Report

Patti Scalf’s Retirement – The End of an ABOS Era

It is with mixed emotions that I let you know that Patti Scalf, who has been with the ABOS for 30 years, has announced that she will retire at the end of May. We share in celebrating her storied career and wish her well in future endeavors, but the ABOS will certainly miss her expertise. The word that I keep coming back to when I think about Patti’s time at the ABOS is DEDICATION.

Patti’s official title at the ABOS is “Certification Administrator,” and in that role she performs a variety of tasks for our Computer and Oral Examinations. However, as many of you well know, Patti means so much more to our entire organization. If you have taken the Part II Examination in the last 30 years, you probably saw her walking around the Palmer House making sure everything was running smoothly. In addition to what you have seen, Patti has done a multitude of behind-the-scenes tasks to make sure that every examination has run efficiently, especially managing the hundreds of Oral Examiners who are needed each year. If you took the Part I Examination in person in Chicago, you saw her there as well. With the move to Prometric Testing Centers, Patti has been the person to make sure that everyone gets a scheduling permit and a seat. In 2020, Patti worked patiently, persistently, and tirelessly through a global pandemic to get every ABOS Candidate a seat to take the Part I Examination. Many of these individuals will attest that many of those arrangements were made after hours, on nights and weekends…dedication.

In the early 1990s, the ABOS offices moved from Chicago to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Patti was at the center of making that move successful, being one of the first North Carolina hires. As none of the full time Chicago employees moved, she learned everything she could about the organization to ensure continued smooth sailing for the ABOS and our Diplomates. Patti worked temporarily next door, at the American Board of Pediatrics, while the ABOS office was being built…dedication.

Last year Patti, along with another long-time employee Denise Frazier, talked about their experiences with the ABOS and what has changed over those 30 plus years. You can listen here.

I have known Patti for more than 15 years and can say that she is a consummate professional. Calm, caring, persistent, and…dedicated. Please join me in wishing her the best of luck on her upcoming retirement.

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


2022 ABOS WLA Underway

The Assessment Window for the 2022 American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) Pathway is open now and will remain open through 6:00 pm ET on May 24th. Eligible Diplomates must answer all 30 questions by the deadline to complete the pathway.

This year, the ABOS has added a new category of Knowledge Sources: General Principles. This category consists of Sources that are applicable to all orthopaedic surgeons, no matter their subspecialty.

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 the 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 earn Quality Years and successfully complete the pathway. Diplomates who passed the 2021 ABOS Part II Examination are encouraged to consider this opportunity and learn more about this ABOS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) 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.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit for those who participate in the ABOS WLA. The ABOS WLA CME will be posted to participants’ AAOS transcript approximately 4-6 weeks after the ABOS WLA testing window closes on May 24th. The credits will need to be claimed by you, and once claimed will be automatically transferred to the ABOS Dashboard.

As a reminder, Diplomates can still elect to take an Oral Recertification Examination or Computer-Based Recertification Examination as an ABOS MOC Knowledge Assessment Pathway, but the Practice-Profiled Examinations will only be offered every other year starting in 2023. You can see all MOC options, based on your Certification expiration date, here.

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


ABOS-ABMS Visiting Scholars Program

The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) have partnered to support the ABOS-ABMS Visiting Scholars Program for the eighth consecutive year. This Program fosters research that informs physician assessment and certification, supports the development of next generation leaders, and helps build awareness about the value of Board Certification to external audiences.

The 1-year, part-time program provides the ABOS-ABMS Visiting Scholar with opportunities to:

  • Gain exposure to the fields of quality improvement, health care policy, physician assessment, and continuing professional development
  • Engage with national health care leaders and the ABMS Member Boards
  • Conduct research of value to their programs, organizations, and the certification community
  • Present and disseminate their research
  • Expand their professional networks

To learn about the projects of the previous ABOS-ABMS Scholars, click on this link. The ABOS has sponsored eight highly accomplished Visiting Scholars including the current scholar, Thomas Utset-Ward, MD, MBA, a resident at the University of Chicago whose project is “Pilot Study on the Use of the ABOS Surgical Skills Assessment Tool to Inform Resident Milestones in the First Year of Milestones 2.0.”

Remaining at their home institutions and organizations, the Visiting Scholars participate in program webinars and pursue research projects in collaboration with identified mentors. Visiting Scholars also participate in meetings during the course of the year with ABMS and Member Board leaders, and the leadership of ABMS Associate Members, among others. Once the year is over, scholars can continue their relationship with the ABOS and ABMS Board Communities through an alumni network. Visiting Scholars receive a stipend to support their research and program participation.

The Visiting Scholars Program is open to early career physicians, junior faculty, fellows, residents, and individuals holding a Master’s or Doctorate degree in public health, health services research, and public health policy and administration, or other related disciplines. The next application deadline is June 12, 2022. Click here to read more about the program and the application process.


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