Professional Standing

Diplomates need to ....
  • hold a valid ABTS certificate at the time of application;
  • be in good standing under the former MOC process;
  • hold a currently valid, full and unrestricted license(s) to practice medicine;
  • have privileges from a hospital(s) accredited by JCAHO or other institutions judged acceptable by the ABTS;
  • submit a letter of reference from the VP of Medical Affairs, Chief of Staff or an equivalent individual; and
  • submit a letter of reference from one responsible member on staff at the principal hospital.
Life-long Learning

Diplomates need to ...
  • earn an average of 30 AMA Category 1 CME credits per year over 5 years (150 CMEs total for 5 years);
  • half (75 CMEs) should be in the broad category of cardiothoracic surgery; and
  • half (75 CMEs) can be of any type as long as it is Category 1 CME.

Acceptable Category 1 CMEs include, but are not limited to: 
  • annual meetings like the AATS, STS, STSA, WTS, ACS, and other national, regional, and/or local meetings; 
  • online courses such as the CME journal articles from the Annals of Thoracic Surgery and/or the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery;
  • 12 hours annually of Morbidity & Mortality conferences from the Diplomate's institution(s) provided that they are AMA Category 1
Cognitive Expertise

Diplomates need to complete one of the four Continuing Certification modules (Adult Cardiac, General Thoracic, Cardiothoracic, or Congenital Cardiac) every 5 years. Diplomates are allowed to take the exam one year early (ie, fourth year).  Diplomates who do not successfully complete the Continuing Certification Exam by the end of the fifth year due to extenuating circumstances may petition the ABTS for a one-year grace period.  The ABTS will consider a one-year extension on a case-by-case basis.

The Continuing Certification Exam ...
  • tests fundamental and practiced-related knowledge 
  • consists of 100 multiple-choice questions similar to SESATS (questions followed by critique).
  • is modular, based on the Diplomates specialty, and presents in a self-assessment format.
  • is graded and it is possible to fail the exam.
  • is online and can be taken at home or office.
Patient Safety

Diplomates who are active need to take a Patient Safety Course within 2 years of the application.

The Patient Safety course can range from hospital-based programs to online programs with CME credit.  You may have already taken one for your institution such as:
  • Pain Management
  • Infection Prevention
  • Prevention of Medical Errors
  • Workplace Safety
  • Patient Rights
  • Conscious Sedation
Practice Quality Improvement

Diplomates who are active need to conduct a Patient Quality Improvement (PQI) Project within 2 years of the application.

Continuing Certification allows multiple pathways for Diplomates to meet the requirements set forth by the ABMS for Practice Quality Improvement. These include activities at the individual surgeon, individual practice, institutional, or regional collaborative level. It is anticipated that most Diplomates are already participating in a PQI project. The ABTS encourages its Diplomates to take part in a meaningful and valuable exercise that will benefit both their patients by improving the quality, value, and safety of the care that is delivered. For more details and examples of the various types of PQI projects, please click on the links below.