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Council Bluffs Surgical Associates

 What is the American Board of Surgery?

The American Board of Surgery (ABS) was founded in 1937 by the leading U.S. surgical societies to evaluate, examine and certify individuals in the field of surgery. The ABS offers certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine.

The American Board of Surgery is an independent, non-profit organization and is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

What Does it Mean to Be Board Certified?

Certification by the ABS is a voluntary process meant to recognize individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge specifically in the field of surgery. Board certification is different from possessing a medical license, which is required by law for an individual to practice medicine. Board certification is specialty-specific, whereas medical licensure is not.

How Does an Individual Become Board Certified?

Initial board certification in general surgery or vascular surgery involves the following steps:

1. Education
Applicants for certification must have graduated from an accredited medical school in the U.S. or Canada, or be certified by the Educational
    Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
They must also have completed a minimum of five years of progressive training in a residency program in the U.S. or Canada accredited by
    the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

2. Application for Certification
Upon completion of their residency training, surgeons may apply for certification by the ABS. As part of the application, the residency program
    director must attest to the applicant's surgical skills, ethics and professionalism. Applicants must hold a license to practice medicine in the
    U.S. or Canada before they can become certified.
If the application is approved, the surgeon is admitted to the required examinations for certification.

3. Examinations for Certification
In the first phase of the exam process, surgeons must take and pass a written examination known as the Qualifying Examination, which
   assesses their surgical knowledge.
The candidate then must take and pass an oral examination called the Certifying Examination, which tests surgical judgment and decision
   making. Candidates are interviewed by experienced surgeons who evaluate their ability to diagnose and treat diverse surgical problems.
If successful on this examination, the surgeon is deemed ABS certified and becomes a "diplomate" of the ABS.

Certification in Other Specialties

The ABS also offers certification in pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. Certification in these areas requires training in an accredited training program for that specialty and successful completion of the required examinations. Prior certification in general surgery is generally also required for certification in these specialties.

Maintenance of Certification

In 1976, the ABS switched from certificates that were valid indefinitely to certificates that must be renewed every 10 years. To maintain their certification, diplomates must demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and continuing education as well as pass a written examination. This process has recently been expanded into Maintenance of Certification, an ongoing professional development program with more frequent requirements for learning and assessment.

Michael K. Zlomke, M. D.
Patrick J. Ahrens, M.D.
Eric M. Bendorf, M.D.

Cleo M. Beckham, PA-C

712.396.4320
201 Ridge St., Suite 214
Council Bluffs, IA 51503


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