American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

December 2018 Diplomate

Posted On: December 1, 2018

President’s Message

Like all of you, I am Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). I have already recertified once, and I am scheduled to take the Orthopaedic Trauma Practice-Profiled Recertification Examination in 2019. I am attracted, however, to the new ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA). I think that it is intriguing to be presented with the “should-know” literature in specialties other than my own, and I look forward to the opportunity to participate! But what if these options didn’t exist?

Although Maintenance of Certification (MOC) may seem like a lot of work, it is important to realize that there are several aspects of the program that you are already doing:

  • You must have an unrestricted license and hospital admitting and surgical privileges – if we are still practicing, we need these in order to do our work!
  • You must obtain 240 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, of which at least 40 are Self-Assessment Examination (SAE) credits – many of our state licenses require even more CME than this.

In fairness though, there are two parts of MOC that you weren’t already doing:

  • Successfully complete a Knowledge Assessment— one of 10 Computer-based multiple choice Examination Options, Oral Examination, or ABOS WLA
  • Complete an Application, submit a Case List, and undergo Peer Review

Since much of this work is done once every 10 years, the process is manageable. In the focus group results mentioned in Dr. Martin’s article, Diplomates think of the ABOS as “protectors of the public,” and we take that job very seriously.

So what is the value of MOC to the individual Diplomate? The Case List and Peer Review are integral processes that ensure that ABOS Board Certified Diplomates have demonstrated that they practice within accepted parameters. This is a measure of quality that the public demands and that the individual Diplomate may be proud. Know for certain that you are within a select group of high-quality orthopaedic surgeons when you maintain your Board Certification through the ABOS.

It is fortunate that the medical profession is allowed to be regulated by physicians rather than other entities. Consider what it would be like if the government regulated our profession? Would they know how to determine which physicians are not practicing safe medicine? You may feel that this is already happening, and that perception emphasizes the need to maintain our autonomy as professionals.

The ABOS has made numerous changes over the last few years to make it easier for surgeons to participate in MOC, while still ensuring that we protect the public. These changes include offering the ABOS WLA, expanding the number of Computer-based Recertification Examination options, and eliminating the MOC CME fee that used to be charged after year three of a Diplomate’s 10-year MOC cycle. We continue to make improvements and value your feedback; most of the changes we have made have come because of recommendations from Diplomates. Feel free to email me at with any suggestions you have.

Douglas W. Lundy, MD, MBA
President, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Executive Medical Director’s Report

In the July issue of The Diplomate, I mentioned that the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) was undertaking a marketing and communications research project. The research and information gathering part of the project is complete and we are now beginning to implement the suggestions from our communications partner, Jennings.

Jennings works with many large hospitals and health systems throughout the country and also works with several American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Member Boards, focusing on healthcare communications. Jennings first conducted one-on-one interviews with leaders in orthopaedic surgery and then directed online focus groups with ABOS Diplomates representing all subspecialties and geographic regions.

Many of the Diplomates said that the ABOS is perceived as “conservative,” but recognized “positive signs of change.” One of the strongest attributes Diplomates reported about the ABOS is that we “protect the public interest.” We did hear that while we are “respected,” our processes can be seen as “onerous.” ABOS Diplomates appreciate the legitimacy and validation that comes from being ABOS Board Certified, but noted that the process, in certain situations, can be confusing. Understandably, ABOS Diplomates look for transparency in Board Certification activities and we agree.

The ABOS has heard you and changes are being made. The ABOS Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment (ABOS WLA) option for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Knowledge Assessment is an attempt to recognize adult learning principles and meet Diplomates at their practices. Many Diplomates believe that this pathway will be less burdensome, more relevant to their practice, and provide choices that emphasize the journal-based learning. We are also working to make our communications as clear as possible by focusing communications so that Diplomates only receive information that affects them personally. If you receive an email from the ABOS, it is directly pertinent to your ABOS Board Certification situation. Most Diplomates prefer to receive communication through email and we will continue to utilize electronic communication as our primary method of contact with our Diplomates.

Additionally, over the next six months, the ABOS will:

  • Launch an updated ABOS Diplomate Dashboard
    This will make it easier to see where you are in the process and alert you to next steps
  • Launch a re-designed ABOS Website at
  • Continue to improve our patient-directed website
    Direct your patients to this site so that they will understand your accomplishment of attaining ABOS Board Certification
  • Join the social media universe
  • Make improvements to this e-newsletter
  • And more!

ABOS communication strategies are evolving – we want to hear from you!

We appreciate the candor of our Diplomates and we are responding. I always love to hear your feedback about how the ABOS is doing. Feel free to email me at dmartin@abos.orgor set up an appointment for us to talk at a time convenient for you at 919-929-7103.

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

ABOS WLA Knowledge Sources to be Posted January 2

Wednesday, January 2, 2019, will be your first opportunity to see if the new American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) Web-Based Longitudinal Assessment Program (ABOS WLA) is right for you. That’s when the ABOS will post all 101 Knowledge Sources.

To access the ABOS WLA, you will first go to and log in. Once logged in, click on the link to ABOS WLA and log in with the same username and password. This allows you to be logged into both pages simultaneously and reduces the likelihood that you will be timed out of the system. You will first want to review the list of 101 Knowledge Sources. To read the Knowledge Sources, click on the title in the citations.

Eventually you will need to choose 15 Knowledge Sources on which you will be assessed. If you have a Surgery of the Hand or Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Subspecialty Certificate, you will be required to choose at least five Knowledge Sources in your Subspecialty each year that you participate in the ABOS WLA.

You do not have to choose your Knowledge Sources until you are ready to begin the assessment. The assessment window runs from April 15-May 20. You will pay the assessment fee when you are ready to view your first question in the assessment window. If your Certificate expires in 2019-2025, and you would like to participate in the ABOS WLA, you are required to begin in 2019. It is highly recommended that those whose Certificates expire in 2026-2028 start in 2019 as well, but that is not required.

Continuing Board Certification: Call for Comment

The Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission has released its draft report for public comment. The report, which includes the Commission’s key findings and recommendations, is now posted on the Vision Initiative website for comment. The comment period will run through Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 11 pm CT. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) Board is reviewing the draft of the report.

In creating the draft report, the Commission considered the input received from key stakeholders reflected in the more than 21 hours of testimony and results of the open stakeholder survey posted this past summer on its website. The ABOS actively participated in that process. The report is comprehensive and outlines the Commission’s findings and a set of recommendations for future continuing certification programs.

The Commission will meet one last time to review and discuss the comments received and make revisions to the draft report before submitting its final report to the Board of Directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties in February 2019.

We encourage our ABOS Diplomates to review the draft report and consider offering feedback. To review and/or comment on the draft, please visit by 11 pm CT on January 15, 2019. You can always provide feedback to the ABOS by contacting David F. Martin, MD (ABOS Executive Medical Director) either by email at or by setting up an appointment for a telephone conference, by calling 919-929-7103.


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