Categories of Certification

Certification and State Licensure

Requirements for certification and continuous certification (CC) are distinct from those for license. While certification and participation in CC are voluntary processes, licensure is legislatively mandated and falls under the jurisdiction of each state where a physician may practice.

Individual neurosurgeons are classified by the ABNS into five distinct categories:

  1. Currently Certified – Participating in Continuous Certification
  2. Currently Certified – Not participating in Continuous Certification
  3. Certified- Inactive (Clinically or Surgically)
  4. Certified – Retired from Operative Practice
  5. Not Certified

1. Currently Certified – Participating in Continuous of Certification

Diplomates who have paid their annual fees and are in the process of completing CC requirements in a timely fashion for each year within the ten-year cycle.

2. Currently Certified – Not Participating in Continuous Certification

Diplomates who are not participating in CC and have either non time-limited certificates or time-limited certificates that have not yet expired. CC participants who fail to meet the annual requirements in a timely fashion are subject to the following with respect to participation classification:

  • A diplomate who has participated in annual requirements but is delinquent in some of its components will be notified of their delinquencies. The diplomate may enter a six-month grace period to fulfill all the requirements of that year while also working on the requirements of the new year. The grace-period fee must be paid as specified by the board. This may be done (as necessary) three times during the ten-year CC timeframe.
  • A diplomate who has not participated during the previous year will be notified of their non-participation. To be reinstated, the individual must pay a reentry fee and fulfill other requirements as the board establishes to prove evidence of professional standing, lifelong learning and satisfactory performance in practice. Failure to participate annually may occur only three times in the 10-year CC timeframe.
  • A diplomate who never begins CC will be classified as “Certified – Not Participating in CC”. If the diplomate holds a time-limited certificate, they will be classified until the certificate expires. At that time, they will no longer be an ABNS diplomate.

3.Certified- Inactive (Clinically or Surgically)

Diplomates who are clinically or surgically inactive for a period because they are participating in one of the activities listed below:

  • Engaged in research
  • Academic administration
  • Government policy work
  • Other activities that preclude or interfere with active clinical or surgical practice

To remain certified, a diplomate must inform the board in writing of their intention to become clinically or surgically inactive and of the likely duration of clinical or surgical inactivity.

Diplomates with time-limited certificates who are listed as “Inactive” may be exempt from certain aspects of the ABNS CC program (or the ABNS/ABPNS CC program as applicable) during the period which they are inactive as permitted by the board (in conjunction with the ABPNS, as applicable). The board (in conjunction with the
ABPNS as applicable) will notify inactive diplomates of the CC elements that apply during the period of clinical or surgical inactivity. The board (in conjunction with the ABPNS as applicable) will also notify diplomates of the steps they must take before being listed as “active” again.

4. Certified – Retired

Diplomates who have retired from the practice of neurosurgery but were certified and in good standing at the time of retirement. To remain certified, they must:

  • Inform the ABNS in writing of their intention to retire.
  • Execute the ABNS standard retiree form warranting that they will forever cease the practice of neurosurgery.
  • Exchange their certificates for a new certificate stating, “Retired in Good Standing”.

Individuals who elect this status and comply with these requirements will not be required to participate in CC and will be listed as “Certified – Retired” on the ABNS website. If they later resume the practice of neurosurgery, they will have their certificates permanently revoked unless:

  • They petition the ABNS for reinstatement of their original certificates prior to resuming practice.
  • Reinstatement is approved by ABNS.
  • They comply fully with any ABNS conditions in connection with such reinstatement.

5. Not Certified

  • Diplomates whose certificates have been suspended or revoked.
  • Diplomates whose time-limited certificates expired and have not been awarded new time-limited certificates due to their failure to successfully complete the CC process.
  • Neurosurgeons who have never been ABNS certified. Individuals in this category include those who have never sought certification, as well as those who never completed the certification process. These individuals do not appear on ABNS databases or listings.
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