As a resident, what needs to be done if I want to complete a rotation away from my primary program?

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.

As a resident, what steps need to be completed to get credit for prior education?

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.

What is the pass rate for residents taking Primary Examination?

In March 2018, the exam was taken by 219 examinees for certification with a pass rate of 90.86% and 91% for  Residents taking the primary exam for the first time. The minimum passing score was 89% correct.

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.

What is the pass rate for the Oral Examination?

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.

How often is the Oral examination offered and what is the format?

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.

What changes is the ABNS making specific to Maintenance of Certification?

We have responded to our Diplomates requests to make Part III of 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 responded that MOC was appropriate and important to help maintain the highest standards of a neurosurgical practice. Hence it is our hope that this new Part III examination will be both educational and meet the needs of the public.

The emphasis is on learning new evidence based “core neurological surgery concepts” to enable of diplomates to better serve their community in the ER, Trauma Center and clinical practice in general. 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 MOC or completing the ABNS 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 will be available in April 2018.

Maintenance of Certification renamed Continuous Certification to Start in 2018.

The ABNS is continually trying to improve the MOC process to minimize the burden and maximize its value. There are currently 2647 diplomates participating in MOC. This includes 122 who do not have time-limited certificates and signed up voluntarily. All ABNS Directors have been signed up for MOC.

The salient features of Continuous Certification effective January 2018
are as follows:

Part I and IV: Verification of state license, hospital credentials and
active participation in mortality/morbidity conference by CMO, or Chief of
Neurological Surgery yearly

Part II: 20 CME of any type/year

Part III: Adaptive Tool as described above.

How do I print my certificate?

Your certificate will be available upon completing all the questions within the MOC Learning Tool. Once complete, click on “My MOC Learning Tool” in the main navigation and click the “Access Certificate” button.

How long do I have access to my MOC Learning Tool?

The MOC Learning Tool is refreshed every year on January 1. You will have access to the current MOC Learning tool through December 31. On January 1, a new 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 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 MOC Learning Tool for your staff, group, or organization. If you do purchase more than one 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 MOC Learning Tool. Note that if you as the purchaser do NOT wish to use the MOC Learning Tool yourself, please be certain to disallow auto-enroll during the purchase process.

How many ABNS Diplomates are there?

There are currently 4689 active diplomates including 274 (5.8%) women, a percentage that is steadily increasing as a result of the increasing number of women in training programs. There are 2722 participating in MOC, 1377 retired and 1076 deceased. Since its founding in 1940, the ABNS has certified 7142 diplomates.

What Focused Practice areas are recognized by ABNS?

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.

Helpful links:

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

How many residents are being trained in Neurosurgery?

There are 1424 residents training in 110 ACGME approved neurosurgical resident programs being tracked by the ABNS. Women account for 16.9% of the total, a percentage that has been gradually increasing. One hundred eighty-four residents graduated in 2017, the same number as 2016.

How do I contact technical support?

For questions and assistance, you may send an email to, or call 203-397-2267.

What is the refund policy when purchasing an MOC learning tool?

All sales are final once the MOC Learning Tool has been accessed.

What is the best web browser to use on this site?

The site and classes are compatible with all web browsers that have been updated within the past three years. The site and courses are also available on mobile devices.

I forgot my password. What should I do?

Click the “Login” link in the top navigation, then click “Lost your Password?”.  Enter your email address or username on the following page and you will be sent an email with a link that will allow you to reset your password. If you have technical difficulties, then contact the Service Center.

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