American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Check for Certification

In order for a U.S. physician to become board certified in a surgical specialty, they must complete the required years of residency training in that specialty, and then demonstrate their knowledge by successfully completing a rigorous comprehensive examination. Specialty boards certify physicians that meet certain published standards. There are 24 specialty boards that are recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

A specialist has graduated medical school and received an MD (Medical Doctorate) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). The physician then completes three to eight years of additional training in an accredited residency program. Each specialist must pass a written examination given by a specialty board. Fifteen of the specialty boards also require an oral examination. All of the ABMS Boards issue a time-limited certificate, which are valid for six to 10 years. In order to retain certification, physicians must become recertified and must show continuing education in the specialty. You can review a brief description of the surgical specialty areas our website.

You can check on specialty certification of specific physicians through the ABMS, through the link: “Is Your Doctor Certified.” You will need to register, just follow their directions. After registering, click on “Is Your Doctor Certified” and enter your search information. In addition, verbal verification of a physician’s board certification is available through the ABMS toll-free telephone service. Call: 1-866-ASK-ABMS (275-2267). You can also check verification in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists.

In Canada, a qualified surgeon attains his or her certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In addition to setting the highest standards for medical specialty training in Canada, the Royal College verifies that surgeons have meet all the necessary requirements for certification, and produces and administers the certification exams

To check a Canadian surgeon’s certification, contact:

In most cases, a surgeon who is board- or Royal College-certified, and/or a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons will have certificates verifying these credentials on display in their office. If not, another way is to simply ask the surgeon for his or her credentials. Or you can phone your state or county medical association for assistance.