LEAD Continuous Certification Program

A group of foot and ankle surgeons with hands in.


ABFAS is transitioning its ten-year Maintenance of Certification programs to a process of Continuous Certification based on a longitudinal assessment—a new process wherein Diplomates will answer a set number of questions per quarter and get immediate feedback on their performance. When the program goes live in 2022, ABFAS will replace its recertification and self-assessment examinations with the new program LEAD: Longitudinal Education and Assessment for Diplomates.

All Diplomates will begin participating in the LEAD program in January 2022, regardless of certification expiration date.

Questions about the ABFAS shift to Continuous Certification can be directed to lead@abfas.org, or call the ABFAS team at 415.553.7800. 


LEAD Program Requirements

What do you need to do for the LEAD program? How can you ensure your ABFAS certification will renew? Click through to our interactive Program Requirements tool.

Click here for your specific Program Requirements



LEAD Program Opportunities




Frequently Asked Questions

ABFAS has prepared a question-and-answer webpage that lists several questions Diplomates frequently ask about the shift to the new LEAD program of Continuous Certification.

Click here for the Online FAQ




Video: Diplomates Answer Your Questions

In this brief video, ABFAS Diplomates Christopher Lotufo, DPM; Aksone Nouvong, DPM; Felicia Dickson Pierre, DPM; and Travis D. Piper, DPM answer your questions about the LEAD program. 



Additional Information

Timeline for the Change to Continuous Certification
  • September 2019: ABFAS advised all Diplomates that the change was in the works, conducted a Diplomates survey, and invited pilot program volunteers.
  • September 2019 to December 2020: Continuous Certification Task Force members and ABFAS staff designed the look and feel of the exam process, developed questions for LEAD, and made preparations for the pilot program.
  • October 2020: ABFAS formally invited Diplomates to pilot the program, eventually identifying a closed group of about 500 participants.
  • December 2020: In the wake of the cancellation of 2021 recertification and self-assessment exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ABFAS rolled all Diplomates in the final year of their certification or self-assessment cycles into the pilot program.
  • January 2021: ABFAS launched the pilot program. Approximately 500 participants are currently testing the new online portal and system and providing feedback to ABFAS on both the testing process and the exam question content.
  • May 2021: ABFAS informed all Diplomates via email of the shift to Continuous Certification and its impact.
  • Fall 2021: ABFAS will provide all Diplomates information necessary to begin LEAD participation in January 2022.
  • January 2022: All Diplomates, regardless of certification expiration year, will begin participation in the LEAD Program.

When the pilot program concludes at the end of 2021, ABFAS will launch the new continuous certification process in early 2022.

What Diplomates Can Do Now to Prepare for Continuous Certification

ABFAS will email Continuous Certification-related announcements and details to Diplomates. To ensure they are receiving ABFAS emails, please:

  1. Add lead@abfas.org and info@abfas.org to your email inbox safe sender list. Instructions are available online
  2. Log in to your ABFAS profile and, if necessary, update your personal information, including your email address.
How Continuous Certification will Benefit Diplomates

The program features several innovations designed to make certification easier for Diplomates:   

  • a continuous, self-paced online assessment instead of a traditional recertification or self-assessment examination 
  • a set number of questions to answer each quarter, anytime and from anyplace, using a computer, tablet, or smartphone—with no need to travel to a testing center
  • instant feedback on questions including the correct answer, rationale, and references, enabling Diplomates to identify potential knowledge gaps 
  • an easy-to-understand standard demonstrating whether each Diplomate is keeping current on knowledge relevant to foot and ankle surgery

In addition to the new online continuous certification process, ABFAS will still require Diplomates to meet existing maintenance of certification requirements such as CE credits and proof of hospital/surgical privileges. More information is forthcoming. 

What Continuous Certification Means for Diplomates
  • All ABFAS Diplomates will begin participating in the Continuous Certification Program in 2022.
  • All ABFAS Diplomates will participate in the program during the ten years of their certification or self-assessment cycle. 
  • Participation will not require excessive time commitment, and ABFAS has designed the program to provide flexibility for busy surgeons to engage…anytime and from any place.
  • For Diplomates with time-limited certificates (certified after 1990), full participation in the program will renew certification dates. 
  • For Diplomates with lifetime certificates (certified before 1991), full participation in the program will maintain active certified status.
The Concept of Continuous Certification

Concepts behind the change:

  • Promoting continuous, lifelong learning
  • Improving Diplomates’ experience of the certification process
  • Providing an assessment that is relevant to Diplomates’ practices
  • Incorporating principles of adult learning theory
  • Enhancing validity of assessment results through continuous assessment
  • Improving relevance by providing feedback opportunities
Program Cost

Unlike the now-retired recertification and self-assessment exams, there isn’t a separate fee for the LEAD program. There will be a slight increase in the annual fee to accommodate the cost of the new ongoing program, however. In recognition of the transition to this new approach that starts January 2022, ABFAS did not raise the 2021-22 annual fee for the first year of the program. We do plan, however, to make a small increase of $90 in the second program year (2022-23)—our first increase since 2006—to accommodate the cost of running the new program.

How to Study for LEAD

Diplomates are welcome to prepare for the assessment as they feel necessary. Each quarterly LEAD assessment will consist of 30 multiple-choice questions, including some based on visual presentations. Following each question are at least four possible answers. Each question has only one best answer. Diplomates will have three minutes to answer each question, and the questions will assess existing knowledge relevant to foot and ankle surgery.

This does not prohibit Diplomates from referencing documentation. Through a performance tracker and pointed references and rationales after each question they answer, Diplomates will have the opportunity to see which areas require more attention to develop their knowledge and in which areas they have improved.



A foot surgeon relaxes at home while answering LEAD questions on a tablet.