Pathway I

Admission into the Subspecialty Certification in Congenital Cardiac Surgery for all congenital cardiac surgeons trained beginning July 1, 2008 and thereafter is based on the requirements listed below.

Completion of an ACGME Congenital Heart Surgery Residency

The factual knowledge, technical skills, and problem-solving and judgment necessary to treat patients with congenital heart conditions are developed in a congenital heart surgery residency program that is approved by the RRC-TS and accredited by the ACGME. The highest educational standards are best achieved in residency programs in which close supervision and instruction as well as progressive individual responsibility for operative and postoperative care are possible.

The ABTS realizes that an examination primarily tests the factual knowledge acquired by the candidate and the candidate’s ability to reason. However, the limitations of an examination as the only assessment of clinical competence are well recognized. Therefore, an important part of the responsibility for determining clinical competence rests upon the Program Director of each congenital heart surgery residency. For this reason and others, only applicants who successfully complete an ACGME-accredited congenital heart surgery residency program and who are recommended by their training Program Director are considered for examination. It is during the period of the residency program that the trainee's ethical and moral character, judgment, technical skills, and ability to cope with a wide variety of clinical problems can be most accurately assessed. Thus, the endorsement of the candidate by the Program Director is required to complete eligibility for certification by the ABTS. Primary certification by the ABTS is required for applicants for the Subspecialty Certificate in Congenital Heart Surgery.

The pathway to subspecialty certification in congenital heart surgery is as follows: successful completion of thoracic surgery residency and congenital heart surgery residency training in accredited programs, thoracic surgery primary certification by the ABTS, and successful completion of written and oral examinations in congenital heart surgery, given by the Board to approved applicants in order assess the candidate’s factual knowledge, technical skills, and problem-solving and judgment in congenital heart surgery. These written and oral examinations are constructed and given by the Board with consultation and assistance in developing the examinations, and in analyzing the results, obtained from content experts, psychometricians, and others. The validity and reliability of the examination process and content are scrutinized continually.

To enter the examination process, a candidate must submit an application to the ABTS office that includes the specifics of their congenital heart surgical operative experience during the congenital heart surgery residency, and the attestation by signature of the Program Director indicating satisfactory completion of the congenital heart surgery program. Program procedure logs and applications are mailed to the Board office. Approved applicants must then achieve a passing score on both the written and oral examinations, which acknowledges that the candidate possesses sufficient factual knowledge, technical skills, and problem-solving and judgment necessary for competence in congenital heart surgery.

The procedures for establishing a candidate's qualifications will be reviewed periodically and revised, when appropriate, in a continuing effort to provide public assurance that congenital heart surgeons granted a Subspecialty Certificate by the ABTS have been adequately trained and educated in, and are competent to practice the specialty of congenital heart surgery.