The American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS), American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS), and American Academy of Neurological Surgery (AAcNS) together established a policy on Professionalism & Harassment. To read the full policy, click here. The ABNS Response team is comprised of the members of the Executive Committee of the Board, the Executive Director and the Chief Administrative Officer. To report an incident or concern to the ABNS, please do so by e-mailing email@example.com or calling 507-322-0400.
How does the individual case minimums impact a candidates ability to become board certified by the ABNS?
The ABNS will review an individual resident’s case log numbers and use it with everything else we look at – to decide whether the candidate is cleared to take the oral exam. The ABNS credentials committee looks at the residency program completion, primary exam passing, 6 to 8 letters of reference, malpractice history, their website, their POST case log and a few other things. The resident’s individual case log will just be another piece of data reviewed.
If a candidate missed on a few of the case minimum categories, the ABNS would probably not make an issue of it and would let the person sit for the oral exam. However, if the candidate’s cases were hopelessly inadequate in multiple areas, the ABNS would likely focus heavily on the 125 cases entered into POST. If the candidate’s POST case log was excellent, we would let them proceed to the oral exam. If there were issues with POST, we may require the candidate to come in for a hearing or enter additional cases into POST.
We do not intend for the ABNS individual case minimums to be a “hard stop” in the board certification. It is just another piece of information we will look at.
Rotations away from your parent program must receive prior written consent from the ABNS. If credit is expected for any type of outside rotation, including research, your Program Director must write prospectively to the Board requesting approval for the rotation, whether it is clinical or non-clinical. The letter must give brief details of the educational experience, where it will take place, under whom, and the time frame. Once the rotation is complete, please submit to the Board a written evaluation of the training and how it contributed to your career goals.
- 6-12 months of neurosurgery credit may be granted if it is neurosurgery or a subspecialty at another ACGME accredited program.
- If the program is not ACGME accredited elective credit will be given.
- Rotations of less than three months are of questionable educational value and most likely will not be approved.
Send written request to ABNS@ABNS.org
A request needs to be sent to the ACGME/RC, specifically Pam Derstine if the program is also seeking credit approval.
Send written request to ACGME/RC
Up to 30 months of elective credit may be requested by a Program Director for prior educational experiences, such as a PhD degree in a relevant subject, clinical rotations (other than fellowships) obtained at an ACGME accredited programs, and neurosurgical training completed outside of the U.S., particularly if the resident is certified in that country.
Written requests submitted by the Program Director to the ABNS. The request must include a complete description of the experience and justification for the request.
In March 2019, the exam was taken by 214 examinees for credit with a pass rate of 91%. The minimum passing score is 335.
In 2018, the exam was taken by 219 examinees for credit with a pass rate of 90.86% and 91% for residents taking the primary exam for the first time.
Previous pass rates were 99% in 2017, 89.9% 2016, 92.6% in 2015, 91.9% in 2014, and 93.5% in 2013.
The exam consists of 375 questions with 60% of the questions being new, rewritten or revised annually.
In May 2019, 122 physicians took the ABNS oral exam, 99 became certified (81% pass rate).
In November 2018, 154 physicians took the ABNS exam with 131 becoming certified (85% pass rate).
In May 2018, 112 physicians took the ABNS exam with 93 becoming certified (83% pass rate).
In November 2017, 93 physicians took the ABNS exam with 75 becoming certified (81% pass rate).
The average pass rate for the oral exam is traditionally in the 80% range.
This is the rate that was used as the predicted/expected pass rate with the new format of the oral exam described below. The ABNS expected an “adaptation” period. In May of 2017 the pass rate was 78.6% with the new format.
The ABNS strives hard to create a level “playing field” for all candidates applying for ABNS certification.
1) The ABNS discourages review of a candidate’s actual oral exam cases/slide presentations at any oral board preparation course. The course content and recommendations may not be consistent with the actual ABNS examination
2) Candidates are encouraged to review their oral board cases/PowerPoint with colleagues, residency or practice mentors as a way to prepare for the oral exam
3) To promote a fair process for all candidates, whether they participate in preparation courses or not, guest examiners and Directors will not participate in any oral board preparation course for the 12 month period following their participation as an ABNS examiner
The ABNS will continue to offer the Oral Examination twice yearly for the conceivable future. The format of the exam consists of 3 sections; each are 45 minutes in length.
We have responded to our Diplomates requests to make Part III of CC/MOC educationally beneficial, more relevant and an efficient use of their valuable time. The ABNS has a goal of transforming the ABNS learner from a passive receptor of information to a collaborator in the learning process while being sensitive to the expectations of the public who expect that their neurosurgeons are up to date with continuous learning and maintenance of certification. Furthermore, in a recent survey the majority of ABNS diplomates agreed that CC/MOC was appropriate and important to help maintain the highest standards for the practice of neurologic surgery. Hence it is our hope that this new Part III adaptive learning tool will be both educational and meet the needs of the public.
The emphasis is on learning evidence based “core neurological surgery concepts” to enable diplomates to better serve their community.
Another ABNS goal has been to change the American College of Surgeons (ACS) criterion for covering an ACS Level I certified Trauma Center from requiring a specific number of CME to requiring participation in CC/MOC or completing the ABNS CC/MOC Learning Tool yearly. This was presented to the Executive Committee of the ACS Committee on Trauma (COT) and approved. Currently, the ACS guidelines are being re-written in 2018 in order to enact the ACS COT Executive Committee’s decision. The learning tool is available as of April 2018.
Maintenance of Certification renamed Continuous Certification
The ABNS is continually trying to improve the MOC process to minimize the burden and maximize its value. The ABNS is approaching 3,000 as the total number of diplomates participating in CC/MOC. In addition, there are more than 100 diplomates who hold a time unlimited certificate who are participating in CC/MOC. These providers signed up voluntarily due to the value CC/MOC brings to thier practice. All ABNS Directors have been signed up to participate in CC/MOC.
The key features of the Annual Continuous Certification program are:
Part I and IV: Annual verification of state license, hospital credentials and
attestation of active participation in mortality/morbidity conference(s)
Part II: 20 CME of any type per year
Part III: Completion of 1 Adaptive learning tool
Your certificate will be available upon completing all the questions within the MOC Learning Tool. Once complete, click on “My Learning Tools and Exams” in the main navigation and click the “Access Certificates” button.
The CC/MOC Learning Tool is refreshed every year on January 1. You will have access to the current CC/MOC Learning tool through December 31. On January 1, a new CC/MOC Learning Tool will need to be purchased, which will give you access through December 31 of that year.
The site allows for purchase of more than one CC/MOC Learning Tool. Does that mean I can purchase for members of my staff, group, or organization?
Yes. If desired, you can purchase more than one CC/MOC Learning Tool for your staff, group, or organization. If you do purchase more than one CC/MOC Learning Tool, your receipt will contain an equivalent number of unique key codes that you can issue to your intended parties, who would then simply go to the site, register, and activate the key to access the CC/MOC Learning Tool. Note that if you as the purchaser do NOT wish to use the CC/MOC Learning Tool yourself, please be certain to disallow auto-enroll during the purchase process.
There are currently 5,986 active diplomates which includes 16% being women, a percentage that is steadily increasing as a result of the increasing number of women in training programs.
Since its founding in 1940, the ABNS has certified over 7,570 diplomates.
By unanimous ABNS Director vote, the ABNS is pursuing, under the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) auspices, two additional focused practice areas crucial for neurological surgery recognition. The ABNS has applied for the CAST Central Nervous System Endovascular Surgery (CNS ES) and Neuro Critical Care Focused Practice (NCC) recognition.
It should be noted that the 1 st ABNS Focused Practice application was for Pediatric Neurological Surgery and was approved and recognized by the ABMS in 2017.
The Focused Practice Issue in Neuro Critical Care (NCC) was discussed in detail at the ABNS Fall Meeting with members of the SNS and AANS in attendance. It was a very lively discussion in which ultimately a unanimous consensus/vote was reached among ABNS Directors and Neurological Surgery Leadership that ABNS pursue a Focused Practice in NCC under the ABMS’s focused practice guidelines.
The agreement was the ABNS would support two pathways for NCC certification through the ABMS focused practice route. The first, would be the SNS CAST proposal to provide neurological surgery with a non- ACGME pathway for our diplomates to receive a Focused Practice Certificate in Neuro Critical Care. This could be an enfolded year as a resident as part of their 30-month elective period.
In addition, the Neurologists of the ABPN asked the ABNS if they would support the ABPN’s request to develop an ACGME focused practice NCC fellowship that would utilize an ACGME pathway. This second pathway would be a two-year fellowship that would permit the neurological surgical resident to complete within their 7 –year residency, with one year being constructive credit for completing the residency. The two-pathway approach will require both the ABNS and the ABPN to apply for separate focused practice pathways from the ABMS in 2018 which was done and is now out for public discussion.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Board of Medical Specialties
The Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) aka “The Senior Society”
American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery
There are 1,489 residents training in 115 ACGME approved neurosurgical resident programs being tracked by the ABNS.
16% of neurosurgery residents are women
All sales are final once the CC/MOC Learning Tool has been accessed.
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