American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

The Diplomate E-Newsletter Summer 2020

Posted On: July 7, 2020

President’s Message

In my last President’s Message in April, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were only starting to appear. Three months later, it has changed much of how we live our lives. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) has made a number of changes to help our Candidates and Diplomates, while also making sure that we stay true to our mission of protecting the public.

The biggest change is that the ABOS will not offer in-person Oral Examinations in 2020. We have developed an ABOS Cased Based Examination system that will allow Examiners and Examinees to participate at home, while still administering a reliable Examination. You can read more about it in Dr. Fred Azar’s article below. We appreciate everyone being flexible in adapting to this new system and we appreciate the hard work of the Board and ABOS staff to implement it so quickly.

Traditionally, the ABOS Part I Examination takes place one day every July at Prometric Testing Centers across the United States. Prometric has been forced to institute COVID-19 social distancing guidelines based on state and local requirements. These guidelines resulted in fewer available seats to all organizations who administer their examinations through Prometric’s system of testing centers. As a result, the ABOS has extended the examination window to last for two weeks in July (July 9th to July 23rd) in order to ensure that every Candidate is able to access a testing appointment. There are currently no changes to the ABOS Subspecialty Certification or Computer-Based Recertification Examinations, as Diplomates have so far been able to successfully schedule those examinations in August and September.

The ABOS also extended the Assessment Window for the 2020 ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment Program. More than 12,600 ABOS Diplomates participated—3,000 more than the number who participated last year! As you will read in Dr. David Martin’s article, Diplomates were grateful to take an assessment that they could complete at home at their convenience.

Any additional changes that need to be made based on the COVID-19 pandemic will be emailed to the impacted Diplomates and posted to Please make sure that the ABOS has your best email address.

The Board continues to operate remotely —staff are functioning from home, and we believe that we have been able to maintain our high level of service to our Candidates and Diplomates. Additionally, the Board of Directors and Committees have held only virtual meetings since March. The ABOS hopes that many of these changes will be for 2020 only but will always operate in a manner that is safe for Examinees, Examiners, and Staff.

Rick W. Wright, MD
President, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Executive Medical Director’s Report

The 2020 American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment Program (ABOS WLA) Assessment Window concluded on June 1. More than 12,600 ABOS Diplomates participated in the 2020 ABOS WLA program. That is 3,000 more than the number of Diplomates who participated last year, the first year of the program. More than 99% of participants earned a Quality Year in 2020.

We appreciate the 7,500 participating Diplomates who completed a post-assessment survey and the 1,100 non-participants who completed a separate survey. Overall, there is a lot of satisfaction with the ABOS WLA program. Diplomates were very happy with the changes to the platform, which allowed a Diplomate to know in advance from which Knowledge Source each question would come. They also appreciated the extension of the Assessment Window dates. More than 80% of participants who participated in 2019 thought that the 2020 ABOS WLA was an improvement over last year’s program. More than 99% of participants said that they plan on participating in 2021.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we heard from many surgeons who were happy to take an assessment at home. In addition, some of the most popular Knowledge Sources were in the COVID-19 section that the ABOS developed in conjunction with the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS).

The Board of Directors will study the survey results and determine later this year what—if any—changes will be made to the 2021 ABOS WLA program. Any changes will be communicated to Diplomates through this e-newsletter, email, and posted to The Board will also determine any required Knowledge Sources for 2021. For the past two years, we have heard a lot of positive comments from Diplomates about the required Knowledge Sources. Next year’s ABOS WLA Knowledge Sources will be posted in January 2021.

There was a lot of work in making the 2020 ABOS WLA program a success. Thank you to the volunteer orthopaedic surgeons from across the country who assisted in identifying appropriate Knowledge Sources and creating/reviewing assessment questions. Thank you to the journal publishers who allowed our Diplomates to access the Knowledge Sources. Our IT staff have been superb at developing the platform and making additional changes this year. Our non-IT staff have been great at answering any questions that you had about the program. And a big thank you to our Board of Directors, who developed the plan and continue to provide vision and direction for its improvement.

No matter which assessment pathway you choose, you still must complete a Recertification Application, including submission of a Case List, and earn 240 Continuing Medical Education credits, of which 40 need to be Self-Assessment Examination credits. The best time to submit your Application and Case List is in the 7th year of your 10-year cycle, although these can be submitted in years 7, 8, or 9. The deadline for the Application and Case List is December 1 of each year. Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions.

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

ABOS Case Based Examination Replacing 2020 ABOS Oral Examinations

The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) to reconsider how our organization administers the 2020 ABOS Oral Examination. In determining the best path forward, the ABOS has carefully considered the safety of our examinees, volunteers, and staff. In addition, the Board is also focused on the best interest of the public we serve and the medical profession we represent. These critical considerations certainly apply to Candidates scheduled to take a 2020 ABOS Part II Examination and Diplomates taking a 2020 ABOS Oral Recertification Examination.

Based on all of those factors, the ABOS Board of Directors made the difficult decision to transition from an in-person ABOS Oral Examination to a new online and remote ABOS Case Based Examination for 2020. This new format will still enable the ABOS to evaluate an Examinee’s surgical practice, while eliminating the potential health risks associated with in-person gatherings.

The Board anticipates that the in-person ABOS Oral Examination will resume in 2021.

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

Stage 1: Remote Case Based Practice Examination
Examinees have uploaded images and documents regarding 12 cases that have been selected from their full submitted Case List, just as they would have done for an in-person Oral Examination. In the first Stage of the 2020 ABOS Case Based Examination, taking place later this month, Examiners will review the documents and images related to the selected cases remotely, without the Examinee present. Each Examinee will have their cases evaluated and scored by four Examiners in this Stage. The ABOS has developed and piloted this examination format over the last several years and found it to be a reliable and valid method to evaluate many Examinees’ practices.

There will be some Examinees who have practices that are not amenable to evaluation with this method alone. Those Examinees will take part in a second Stage of the 2020 Case Based Examination process. Other Examinees will advance to Stage 3.

Stage 2: Remote Case Based Oral Examination
The second Stage, taking place in October and being performed on a subset of Examinees who have participated in Stage 1, will consist of a remote case based oral examination. This Stage will consist of two one-hour video conference call 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 2 will be examined and scored by four Examiners.

Stage 3: Final Evaluation
The third Stage of evaluation will be conducted by the ABOS Board of Directors and will consist of a review of all of the materials provided by all Examinees and Examiners in the first two stages.

Examinees will be notified in December if they have met the requirements to become ABOS Board Certified or Recertified. If, through this process, the ABOS Board of Directors is unable to conclude that an Examinee has met the standards, then the Examinee will be able to participate in the 2021 ABOS Oral Examination with no additional Examination Fee.

The Board wishes to thank the Examinees and Examiners for adapting to these changes and the staff for quickly implementing this high-quality method.

Frederick M. Azar, MD
Chair, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Oral Examinations Committee

Show Your ABOS Pride

You should be proud that you are a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). It is something that many patients consider carefully when choosing an orthopaedic surgeon. The ABOS has developed several ways for you to show your pride:

  • Download the ABOS Board Certified widget to place on your website. When patients click on the widget, they are taken to, which explains how ABOS Board Certification works. To download the widget, log in to your Diplomate Dashboard and click on “Download ABOS Widget” on the orange, left-hand menu. You will be given a very short HTML code that can be added to your website.
  • Wear an ABOS Board Certified pin on your white coat. These are sent to all Diplomates after being Certified or Recertified. You can also request one by emailing
  • Place the ABOS Board Certified window cling in your clinic. Similar to the Board Certified pin, they were sent to Diplomates but you can also request one by emailing
  • Put ABOS patient brochures in your waiting room. Need more copies? Contact us as at

You may also show your pride in ABOS Board Certification online. Feel free to include our Twitter handle of @ABOSortho in your posts. When referring to yourself on your website, on business cards, and other materials, please refer to yourself as “Diplomate, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery” or “Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.” The ABOS does not have an abbreviated designation to use in your title.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Stay Up to Date By Following Us on Social Media

Did you know that more than 1,700 of your colleagues are following the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) on Twitter? The ABOS posts updates and reminders about 15 times a week and looks forward to you following, liking, and retweeting us. You can find the ABOS at @abosortho. If you are not on Twitter, the ABOS actively posts to Facebook and LinkedIn as well and looks forward to you liking us there as well. In addition, we started a podcast earlier this year. You can listen at or through most podcast apps by searching for “American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Podcast.” Please let us know if you have suggestions for future episodes.

ABOS social media was recognized in June by a healthcare marketing awards program. The ABOS was selected as an honoree for the 2020 Medigy HITMC Awards in the Provider – Social Media Use/Campaign of the Year category. In addition, ABOS Senior Communications Specialist David Elstein was selected as an honoree in the Provider – Marketing Person of the Year category. For the last several years, the ABOS has been focused on improving communications with our Candidates and Diplomates – we are pleased that emphasis has resulted in an award-winning program.


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