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New England Surgical Society


1. Meeting

The Board of Directors met in January, April and June of 2020, with another meeting scheduled for September. Dr. John Mellinger has assumed the position of chair of the board of directors, with Dr. O. Joe Hines as vice chair, term to commence after the June 2020 board meeting. We are pleased to submit the following information.

2. Continuous Certification Program

The Continuous Certification Assessments (CCAs) for general surgery, pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, and surgical critical care are now available; diplomates have until Nov. 16, 2020 to complete their assessment(s). Accommodations regarding timelines for the 2020 assessment window have been made for diplomates who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

3. General Surgery Qualifying Exam Solution

The 2020 General Surgery Qualifying Exam (QE) has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 15, and will be held at Pearson VUE exam centers across the country. In recognition of the negative impact of participating in the administration of the July exam, candidates who had registered for the 2020 QE will receive a $400 discount on the next exam, bringing the new price to $950.

In addition, ABS is providing to all candidates who were registered for the July exam:

In recognition of the importance of certification timelines, candidates who wish to do so can take the General Surgery Certifying Exam (CE) before taking the QE. Both exams will be required for certification. Dates will be posted and registration opened no later than the end of September.

In addition, if a candidate chooses not to take the QE during the 2020-2021 academic year, their certification eligibility will be extended by one year.

4. Specialty Qualifying Exams

The 2020 Vascular Surgery QE, Pediatric Surgery QE, Complex General Surgical Oncology QE and Surgical Critical Care CE have been postponed at this time, with a rescheduled date to be announced. The original plan to administer these exams in the same way as General Surgery QE is no longer a viable option.

5. Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs)

The ABS has now completed the feasibility pilot The two-year pilot began in July 2018 with participation from 28 community and academic programs across the country. This pilot has allowed ABS to investigate the use of EPAs in general surgery residency as a way to move toward competency-based education. As a feasibility study, we are satisfied that we have demonstrated that broad implementation of EPAs, while challenging, is indeed possible. At the April meeting, the directors voted to reconvene the writing groups and write the entire portfolio of general surgery EPA’s.

6. Video-Based Assessment

ABS has appointed a 12-person task force to explore the use of video-based assessment (VBA) as a tool to assess resident training (either formative or summative), and/or as a tool to fulfill Continuous Certification requirements.

7. Alternative Pathway to Certification for Internationally Trained Surgeons

An alternate pathway into the ABS certification process is now available for surgeons who are International Medical Graduates. Surgeons who trained internationally in non-Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) programs may be eligible.

The application process will occur in two phases, with specific materials due by Oct. 7 and Dec. 1. ABS has already received a number of applications from surgeons interested in taking advantage of this new pathway to certification. There are a number of eligibility requirements that must be met and documents that must be submitted; full details about this new pathway are available on the ABS website.

8. Diversity Initiatives

ABS has developed a number of tools and resources to address concerns related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Implicit Bias training is provided annually to new and existing oral examiners, and was recently presented internally to all ABS staff. Two demographic surveys have been administered; the first is a leadership survey to analyze ABS leadership, both internally on staff and externally among volunteers,; the second is a diplomate survey in order to get a baseline of the ABS diplomate population. An external consultant has been enlisted to help identify and address any issues that are discovered.

In 2019, ABS moved to a competency-based nomination process for the board of directors. Competencies may include specific skills or expertise, practice areas, physical location (urban vs. rural), or other competencies to assure a wide set of voices at the table. This process will be gradually introduced through the Council and Specialty Board nominating process as well.

Respectfully Submitted,
Anne C. Larkin, MD
NESS Representative, American Board of Surgery