American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

The Orthopaedic Resident E-Newsletter Winter 2021

Posted On: February 15, 2021


ABOS GME Chair Message

Welcome to the first issue of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery’s (ABOS) resident e-newsletter: The Orthopaedic Resident. The ABOS wants to reach orthopaedic residents with information that is important to them.

First, let me introduce you to the ABOS. While there are many orthopaedic associations and societies, the ABOS is the organization that offers Board Certification to graduates of Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited orthopaedic surgery residency programs. Every fall, PGY-5 orthopaedic residents apply to take the ABOS Part I Examination, a computer-based examination that measures orthopaedic surgery knowledge. Two or three years after passing that Part I Examination and becoming ABOS Board Eligible, those same residents will take the ABOS Part II Examination, an oral examination that measures surgical skills and evaluates practicing orthopaedic surgeons based on their own cases. By passing these two examinations, an orthopaedic surgeon becomes an ABOS Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon. But the ABOS is more than examinations.

The ABOS also has always had an important role in setting educational standards for orthopaedic residents. Our mission is to protect the public, and one way we do that is by determining resident proficiency. Much of that has been done by measuring the time residents spend in the various rotations and ultimately judging their performance on the ABOS Part I Examination. But we believe that the new ABOS Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior program, which you will read about in this issue of The Orthopaedic Resident, will help you become a better orthopaedic surgeon, and that will ultimately benefit patients.

While we want to assist in your education and thereby help protect patients, the ABOS does not want to overly burden either you or your residency program. We have been piloting our Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior program for several years. We continue to hear from residents and attendings that the surgical skills program is easy to use, the time commitment is not significant, and the feedback that residents receive is valuable. The behavior assessments are conducted less frequently and only take a few minutes to complete. The evaluations have been a great resource for program directors and have helped guide residents on behavioral norms that will help them as they enter their practice.

If you are a PGY-2, PGY-3, or PGY-4, this may be the first time you have heard from the ABOS. PGY-5 residents may have received their first email from the ABOS this past fall notifying them that the Part I Examination was open. We want to change that and have a dialogue with you throughout your orthopaedic residency experience. And we do mean a dialogue. As you will read in this e-newsletter, we are starting a Resident Advisory Panel and hope that you consider this excellent opportunity to be a part of the process.

While I know you receive a lot of email and have many commitments, please take a few minutes to read this e-newsletter. If you have any questions, please contact your ABOS Certification Specialist. They are assigned by the first letter of your last name, and you will have the same ABOS staff member assigned to you throughout your career.

April Armstrong, MD
Chair, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Graduate Medical Education Committee


Executive Medical Director Report

The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) is creating an ABOS Resident Advisory Panel. This group, comprised of orthopaedic surgery residents, will assist the ABOS by providing information that will be used to support orthopaedic residents across the country. The residents who are selected to serve as panelists will work with the ABOS Graduate Medical Education Committee and the ABOS Communications Task Force. In addition to providing feedback to the ABOS, this is a great way for you to meet other orthopaedic surgery resident leaders as well as talk with ABOS Directors.

This is an exciting opportunity, and I hope you will consider applying to be an inaugural member. As it is a two-year commitment, the program is open to residents who will be in PGY-2, PGY-3, or PGY-4 effective July 1, 2021. Once travel restrictions allow, we will have two in-person meetings each year, and the ABOS will cover all associated expenses. There will also be additional meetings and discussions through Zoom and email.

More information can be found here: Interested residents will need to complete an application and obtain a letter of recommendation from their Program Director.

I want to personally thank the orthopaedic surgery residents who participated in last year’s online focus groups. The ABOS gained valuable insight from those discussions, and we have begun to implement what we learned. It was clear that many of you thought a resident panel would be a good way for the ABOS to get input from residents.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the ABOS at

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


What is the ABOS KSB Program?

Since its founding, a significant part of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery’s (ABOS) mission has been to ensure that high standards for orthopaedic education are maintained. The ABOS has recently rolled out a new program, the ABOS Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior (KSB) program, to support our mission.

Historically, the ABOS has measured residency education strictly by time. Residents have been required to spend a certain length of time in individual patient care areas. At the end of their residency education, the Program Director certifies that a resident is competent, ready for independent practice, and eligible to apply for the ABOS Part I Examination and begin the ABOS Board Certification process.

Over the past several years, the ABOS has been working with residency programs to create a better system for measuring the acquisition of skills and the effectiveness of residency education—a program that can measure competency and provide feedback in real time. This program has been piloted with collaboration from the American Orthopaedic Association’s Council of Orthopaedic Residency Directors, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and many orthopaedic surgery residency programs across the country. The ABOS’ expectation is that this new program will benefit residents, programs, and ultimately patients.

Knowledge is ultimately measured through the ABOS Part I Examination. The Orthopaedic In-Training Examination (OITE) has traditionally been developed by AAOS; the ABOS and AAOS are now working together to make the OITE an even better knowledge assessment and to ensure alignment with the ABOS Part I Examination. It has been a great partnership that will benefit residents.

For surgical skills, the ABOS has developed an assessment program that many residency programs have already implemented. Before or after participating in a surgery, residents can use their smartphones to request the attending faculty member evaluate their performance on the case. The attending immediately receives a text or email and completes a brief evaluation. Residents can then review areas of strength and areas for improvement for specific procedures.

Residents can view, through the ABOS Resident Dashboard, their overall competency level for specific procedures, as well as monitor their growth and progress over time. Instead of just measuring the time spent on a particular rotation, residents—and their program directors—can analyze the resident’s proficiency in dozens of different surgical procedures.

Finally, the ABOS has developed a Professional Behavior tool that allows Program Directors and orthopaedic surgeons the opportunity to evaluate the professional behavior of residents in several domains. The tool measures ethics, communication, reliability, and the desire for self-improvement. These are all important attributes of orthopaedic surgeons.

You can learn more about KSB through this video and this podcast. If your program is not currently part of KSB, they can get enrolled by contacting the ABOS.


ABOS Resident Dashboard Coming Soon

Orthopaedic surgery residents will have a new way to track their progress towards becoming competent orthopaedic surgeons. Later this year, the new American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) Resident Dashboard will provide residents a quick snapshot of where they stand in their educational process and gives them the opportunity to engage in the ABOS Knowledge, Skills, and Behavior (KSB) Program.

Residents will be able to measure their Knowledge acquisition based on scores from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s Orthopaedic In-Training Examination (OITE), which have been linked to the ABOS’s Part I Examination. Those participating in the Surgical Skills and/or Behavior Programs are also able to track their progress in these areas as well.

The Dashboard is a living document, with new sections and updates being added regularly.


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