Skip to main content
American Board of Thoracic Surgery
Alternate Pathway leading to certification by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery
An alternate pathway into the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) Certification process has been created for truly exceptional cardiothoracic surgeons who are International Medical Graduates (IMG). IMG is defined as completion of training programs in Thoracic Surgery outside of the United States not approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).
This pathway is intended for candidates who have and will continue to contribute to the specialty through scholarship, education and research. The ABTS considers this situation extraordinary, and the Credentials Committee of the ABTS approves or disapproves entrance into this alternate pathway on a case-by-case basis.
The Chair of the Department of Surgery (or equivalent such as the Chair of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery if separate and independent from the Department of Surgery), and the Thoracic Surgery residency Program Director, and if applicable, the subspecialty Congenital Cardiac Surgery Program Director at the institution where the candidate holds a current fulltime faculty appointment, must propose the candidate.
Requirements for application
The applicant must:
Possess a current and unrestricted medical license in the United States for a minimum of 3 years.
Have unrestricted clinical privileges at a licensed medical center certified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – Approved Accrediting Organization (e.g. the Joint Commission; http://www.jointcommission.org).
Have a minimum of 3 continuous years of clinical activity at the current institution, employed as a full-time teaching faculty member at a Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical school and at an institution with an ACGME-accredited Thoracic Surgery residency training program.
Document extraordinary scholarship and evidence for continued contributions, and national recognition, in one or more of the following areas: Research, Education, Clinical Care, Program Development, or Service. For example, 1) Appointment as Associate Professor (or higher) at an institution with an ACGME-accredited Thoracic Surgery residency training program or 2) Evidence of continuous graduate medical education responsibilities as a full-time teaching faculty with an ACGME-accredited Thoracic Surgery residency training program for a minimum of 3 continuous years.
Have completed medical training at an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) recognized medical school and possess an ECFMG certificate.
Have completed an equivalently structured and accredited international residency education and training program in Thoracic Surgery, in comparison to the current ACGME-approved Thoracic Surgery residency education and training program, including a signed attestation by the Program Director and the Designated Institutional Official (DIO).
Have achieved board certification in Thoracic Surgery by the national organization responsible for setting training and practice standards in the country where Thoracic Surgery training was completed. This certification will be reviewed and approved on a case by case basis. If original documents are in a language other than English, a notarized English translation must accompany them.
Document current experience through submission of most recent 36 months of operative logs and clinical outcomes. Must have a minimum 150 major cases over three years.
Applicants must provide a sponsorship letter from the Chief of the Medical Staff documenting participation in local quality, patient safety, and outcomes programs.
Three additional reference letters from peers at the nominating institution and three letters of reference from referring physicians which attest to the applicant’s performance, ethics and professionalism.
Current Curriculum Vitae signed by the applicant and validated by the Chair of the Department of Surgery (or equivalent) of the nominating institution. If original documents are in a language other than English, a notarized English translation must accompany them.
The ABTS Credentials Committee will review all documents and letters of endorsement; if acceptable, the candidate will be approved to take the Qualifying Examination to initiate the certification process.
Requirements for entrance into the certification process
Upon application approval, the individual will be granted three opportunities within three years to pass an admissible secure examination of approximately 175-200 multiple-choice questions.
Applicants meeting these criteria will then be eligible to enter the ABTS certification process and must remain in practice at the same institution/location while completing the certification and examination process.
Fee for application
A nonrefundable administrative fee $1,500.00 is due with the application. Any additional fees will be line with current fee schedules for examinations.
Non-discrimination. ABTS retains the privilege of review and consideration of eligibility on a case by case basis, and allows appeals in the event of non-favorable decisions.