ABFAS provides answers to many frequently asked questions from Residents and Residency Directors. Have a question that is not listed here? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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What types of foot and ankle surgeons does ABFAS certify?ABFAS has two types of candidates, Board Certified and Board Qualified. Each candidate type has further distinctions:
- Ambulatory: A podiatric surgeon who became certified by the American Board of Ambulatory Surgery board before it joined with ABFAS.
- Foot and Ankle Surgery: A podiatric surgeon who became ABFAS certified before 1991.
- Foot: A podiatric surgeon who has passed the ABFAS Part I and Part II foot surgery examinations, holds hospital privileges, and has an active license.
- Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle (RRA): A podiatric surgeon who is certified in foot surgery and has also passed the ABFAS Part I and Part II RRA surgery examinations, holds hospital privileges, and has an active license.
Board Certified podiatric surgeons are Diplomates of ABFAS.
- Foot: A podiatric surgeon who has passed the ABFAS Part I Foot surgery examinations, holds hospital privileges, and has an active license.
- Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle (RRA): A podiatric surgeon who has passed the ABFAS Part I Foot surgery and has also passed the ABFAS Part I RRA surgery examinations, holds hospital privileges, and has an active license.
- Ambulatory: A podiatric surgeon who became certified by the American Board of Ambulatory Surgery board before it joined with ABFAS.
What are the different types of status an ABFAS candidate can have?
Certified: Ambulatory, Foot and Ankle Surgery, Foot, Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle (RRA)
Qualified: Foot, Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle (RRA)
Active: Engaged in the active practice of podiatry; has fulfilled all relevant exam requirements; maintains an active, unrestricted license; and holds current, active surgical privileges at a hospital or surgery center.
Administrative: Engaged primarily in an administrative capacity directly related to the profession of podiatry.
Expired: A board qualified or certified podiatric surgeon whose status has expired.
Extension: A board qualified podiatric surgeon who has received an extension for the time period they can be qualified or a Diplomate who has been given additional time to recertify.
Inactive: Not engaged in the active practice of podiatry.
Incomplete: A podiatric surgeon who has taken and passed the ABFAS Board Qualification examinations but has not submitted the necessary documentation to become fully qualified. A podiatric surgeon has one year after passing the Board Qualification examinations to submit the required documentation. After one year, the podiatric surgeon is non-compliant with ABFAS board qualification policy.
No Board Status: A podiatric surgeon who has graduated from, or is in their final year of, a CPME-approved residency program and who has not achieved ABFAS board status.
Non-Compliant: A podiatric surgeon who has taken the necessary ABFAS Board Qualification examinations but did not submit all the required documentation within one year of passing the Board Qualification examinations. A board-certified podiatric surgeon holding foot and ankle certified status who is not compliant with ABFAS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements.
Surgically Inactive: Engaged in the active practice of podiatry but no longer has an active foot and ankle surgical practice; has fulfilled all relevant exam requirements; maintains an active, unrestricted license; and holds current, active privileges at a hospital or surgery center.
Suspended: A board qualified or certified podiatric surgeon whose Foot status has expired and who has met the requirements for RRA qualification or certification. The Foot status must be active in order for the RRA status to be active as well.
Resigned: Has voluntarily given up certification.
Retired: An ABFAS Diplomate who has retired from active practice.
Administrative: Unrelated to any professional review action (e.g., non-payment of annual fee or special assessment).
Legal: Upon professional review related to any of the following possibilities: misrepresents certification status or provides false information to ABFAS, has cheated on any ABFAS exam, or violates the Code of Ethics of the APMA, conviction of either a felony related to the delivery of a healthcare item or service or any offense that causes their license revocation.
Please contact our verifications department if you have additional questions regarding suspended or revoked status.
NOTE: ABFAS does not have a board eligible status.
What is the certification process if I finish residency in 2021 or after?
You will need to pass the Part I Didactic exam and the NEW CBPS exam to become Board Qualified. Alternatively, passing all required ITE exams in final year of residency can count toward Board Qualification with payment of the Board Qualification Fee. Next, you will have to pass Case Review to become Board Certified.
What is the difference between Board Qualified and Board Certified?
Board Qualified status indicates that a podiatric surgeon has passed the Part I examination(s), holds hospital privileges, and has an active license. Individuals who are Board Qualified are not members of the ABFAS but are “in progress.”
Board Certified status indicates that the podiatric surgeon has passed the Part II examination(s), holds hospital privileges, and has an active license. Individuals with Board Certified status are members of ABFAS.
As of September 2020, what are the changes within the board certification process?
This is the new certification process effective in September 2020.
Do the Foot and Ankle Orthopedic surgeons have to take a board certification test as well?
Yes. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) offers a voluntary board certification. ABOS candidates undertake a Part I written examination and a Part II oral examination.
I have a disability and need special accommodations when taking my exam(s). What do I need to do?
If you need to request accommodations for your exams, follow these steps: First, read the instructions for completing the Request for Accommodations, then fill out the form and return to ABFAS for approval. For Spring exams, you must apply for special accommodations at least 60 days prior to your exam and at least 30 days prior for Part I exams.
What does Case Review mean?
See the Part II Case Review Overview page for more information about case review. ABFAS randomly selects up to 11 procedures from those logged in Podiatric Logging Service for Surgery (PLS) if a candidate applies for Foot Surgery certification. ABFAS randomly selects up to 22 procedures from those logged if a candidate applies for both Foot Surgery certification and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery certification. If a candidate applies for RRA certification only, ABFAS randomly selects up to 11 RRA procedures from those logged. ABFAS may evaluate all procedures included in any case.
Candidates must log a minimum of 65 cases in PLS for eligibility to submit cases for review for Foot Surgery certification and/or Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery (RRA) certification (see Appendix C).
For Foot Surgery certification, a minimum of 30 cases must include surgery from the First Ray, Other Osseous, and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle categories listed in Appendix A.
For RRA Surgery certification, you must log a minimum of 30 RRA.
Additionally, the RRA cases must include a minimum of 13 procedures from Appendix B.
Candidates repeating the Case Review portion of the examination must ensure they have an adequate volume of cases to meet the requirement. Cases selected for Case Review in previous years will not be used for Case Review in subsequent years.
- RRA procedures consisting of diagnostic operative arthroscopy, subtalar joint arthroereisis, foreign body/hardware removal, or ostectomy do not count toward the required 30 total.
- Open management of fractures must include some type of internal or external fixation.
- Unproven or experimental procedures do not count toward the required 65 total.
- Removal of internal or external fixation devices or implants do not count.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) procedures and application of biological dressings are not acceptable.
- Please refer to the Board Certification document for required cases and Case Review eligibility charts.
Are fees increasing for the In-training Exam?
Residency programs pay the cost of each resident’s ITE registration.
There will be two tiers of pricing for the In-training exam registration:
-PGY 1, 2 (and 3 in 4-year programs) ITEs will cost $240
-Final-year ITE will cost $300
Where do my application, exam, and annual fees go?
Application fees support ABFAS administrative costs, including the meetings and work of the four committees that develop the exams. ABFAS currently has 16 different exams that cover in-training didactic and CBPS, board qualification didactic and CBPS, board certification CBPS and Case Review, recertification didactic, and Self-assessment didactic.
In 2018-19, ABFAS administered almost 6,000 individual exams. To prepare for this, each year approximately 135 ABFAS board certified members volunteer more than two weeks of their time to meet and review the current exams’ performance, develop new items for future exams, and strategize new exam processes. In addition, for Case Review, more than 115 ABFAS board certified members volunteer for three days (four to five if you include travel time) to review more than 6,900 procedures submitted for those seeking board certification. During the time all of the committees meet, the volunteers are not seeing patients or performing surgery, which means that they are giving up not only their time but their income to make sure that ABFAS exams are of the highest quality.
ABFAS volunteers, staff, and part of your annual fee also support the Podiatry Residency Resource (PRR) program and the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME) through the Residency Review Committee (RRC) and its residency program evaluation process (CREC) and the Joint Committee on the Recognition of Specialty Boards (JCRSB). And the one PRR staff member works out of the ABFAS facilities.
As ABFAS is an independent organization that does not take industry sponsorship or funding like other associations, we appreciate all of your support and the value you put on the podiatric foot and ankle surgery profession and becoming ABFAS certified.
Are ABFAS fees used for lobbying?
No. We only apply fees to administrative/operational costs.
General Exam Questions
I recently started the board certification process and passed the Part I RRA Surgery CBPS exam prior to Fall 2020, what are my next steps to achieve Board Certification?
In your situation, a candidate still needs to pass the Foot Surgery Didactic and Foot Surgery NEW CBPS exam to achieve Foot Surgery Board Qualification. You will also have pass the RRA Surgery Didactic to achieve RRA Board Qualification. Foot Surgery Board Qualification is a prerequisite for RRA Board Qualification.
Once board qualified in Foot and RRA surgery, you will need to pass Foot and RRA Case Review as well as pass an additional RRA CBPS exam, the RRA Surgery NEW CBPS to achieve RRA Surgery Board Certification. The Part I RRA CBPS exam is not psychometrically equivalent to the NEW RRA CBPS exam.
What happens to me after Fall 2020 if I’m already board qualified by then? Do I still need to take a CBPS exam in order to become Board Certified?
Yes, you will. The CBPS exam you took in your pre-2020 Part I exams is not the equivalent of the NEW CBPS exam, so you will still need to take the NEW CBPS in order to achieve Board Certification. You do not need to take another Didactic Exam.
Is there a change to the ITE score reporting effective September 2020?
PGY 1, 2 (and 3 in 4-year programs) will continue to receive the didactic score report after their exam at the Pearson VUE testing center. CBPS score reports will be available on PRR 6-8 weeks later. Residency Directors will also be able to view these reports.
Final-year residents score reports will change:
-If a final-year resident fails the didactic or CBPS exam, they will see the score report as it is today.
-If they pass, they will see a “Pass” where “Your Total Score” appears, along with “Low Pass” or “High Pass” in the subject areas.
-Residency Directors will receive similar reports through PRR.
When can I expect my results?
Pass or fail results are posted online to your personal profile six to eight weeks after the end of the exam period (e.g., if the exam period is January 10-15, ABFAS will notify you of your results 6-8 weeks after January 15). ABFAS will notify candidates via email when results have been posted.
What is Computer-based Patient Simulation (CBPS) testing?
The purpose of the CBPS format is to evaluate candidates’ clinical reasoning skills, a type of testing called performance-based testing. The CBPS examines content knowledge and candidates’ ability to solve problems and make clinically relevant decisions. During the CBPS, candidates collect and analyze patient information and apply what they have learned, thus demonstrating their abilities to examine a patient (physical examination) and formulate a treatment plan.
Candidates complete the CBPS by considering the relevant aspects of case management (patient history, physical examination, imaging, laboratory tests, diagnostic procedures, diagnosis, and treatment, and, in some cases, follow-up diagnoses and treatments). While collecting patient information, candidates must balance thoroughness with efficiency as well as quality versus quantity. Because the CBPS is a timed examination, candidates need to pace themselves and not take too much time on any one point or decision.
Field testing has demonstrated that users who have practiced the CBPS have ample time to complete each case. While collecting information regarding the simulated case, candidates should remember that relevance is paramount to successful resolution of a clinical problem. For example, if candidates are hesitant about whether a procedure is warranted, they should base their decisions on clinical indications. CBPS scoring is based on the relevance of the processes or actions performed.
If I fail the ABFAS examination, do I get reported to an agency?
No. ABFAS considers the status of an individual's participation in and the stage of completion of all Certification components, including an individual's certification status and certification history, to be public information. ABFAS reserves the right to publish and share public information in any and all public forums determined by ABFAS to be reasonable, including the posting of public information on the ABFAS website, sharing the public information with medical licensure boards, managed care organizations, third party payers, or others. While ABFAS generally regards all other information about individuals as private and confidential, there are times that ABFAS must release certain information to fulfill its responsibilities as a medical specialty certification board.
ABFAS specifically regards the results of an individual's Qualification, Certification, or Recertification examination (score and whether the individual passed or failed) as private and confidential.
How much time do I have to complete the Part I process? How many times can I fail/re-take the Part I exams?
Depending upon when and what type of residency program you completed, there are time limits you should be aware of with respect to becoming board qualified and certified. See the ABFAS Board Qualification Document and the Qualification/Certification Chart by Residency Type.
If you pass one section of the Part I exams but fail another, you will receive credit for the section passed, but you will not receive board status. If you fail one section of the Part I exams, you may retake the failed section during the following six years or at the end of your eligibility window.
Can I wait 2 to 3 years before taking the Part I exams, or do I have to take them in the Spring of my final year of residency?
You may, but are not required, to take the Part I exams in the year you graduate from your residency program. In most cases, residents in their final year who graduate in June take the Spring exam (usually in March). But some do wait for the fall exam.
See the ABFAS Board Qualification Document for more information.
I have completed my residency before 2020, but have not become qualified. When can I take the Part I exams?Candidates who have a residency completion year of 2020 or earlier, are eligible to register for the Part I examinations (Part I Didactic and NEW CBPS) in the Fall, and if needed, the following Spring. If unsuccessful, candidates will then only be able to retake Part I examinations in the Spring of each year.
I will complete my residency after 2020. When can I take the Part I exams?
Those candidates who have a residency completion year after 2020, are eligible to register for the Part I examinations (Part I Didactic and NEW CBPS) in the Spring, and if needed, the following Fall. If unsuccessful, candidates will then be able to retake the Part I examinations in the Fall of each year.
What are some important pointers for CBPS?
The CBPS Exam Preparation pages has a list of resources to help you prepare, including the CBPS practice exam, answer key, and explanatory videos on how to best approach and navigate the exam.
Just as in the CBPS examination, the practice exam limits candidates to no more than 15 minutes per case. Candidates should attempt to do a thorough physical examination and include the medical management of the patient.
How do I prepare for an examination?
Review textbooks and recent journals. Additionally, consider taking our Didactic practice test, and CBPS practice test, which will give you a sense of the type of questions that appear on the examinations. For more information, see the ABFAS Board Qualification Document and ABFAS Board Certification Document, which describe the areas tested on the examination(s). Diplomates can read more about the Self-assessment and Recertification examinations on the Exams Overview page.
You can find review courses online; however, ABFAS does not endorse or recommend any course.
What is computer-adaptive testing?
A computer-adaptive test is a computer-based examination that automatically tailors to the ability level of the individual examinee. As you answer each question, the computer assesses the response and selects the next question based on whether your previous answer was correct or incorrect.
If I purposely miss answers, will my exam be easier?
Answering questions incorrectly will result in an easier examination. However, since the Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) examinations are graded on difficulty rather than percentage of correct answers, purposely answering questions incorrectly will result in a lower score. To increase your chances of passing the examination, you must answer every question to the best of your ability.
How can residents best prepare for the ABFAS exams?
ABFAS provides resources for all exams, including study guides, video tutorials, and practice exams. All ITE and Part I exam preparation materials can be found on ABFAS.org under “Didactic Exam Preparation” and “CBPS Exam Preparation.” And, it is important to remember that ABFAS does not endorse any exam prep courses.
How do residents schedule their In-training Exam?
Program directors will continue to use PRR to order the ITE for their residents (all PGYs). After ordering is completed, residents will need to complete their PRR profile and then log into their ABFAS personal profile to schedule their exam with Pearson VUE. Residents will not be able to schedule their ITE exams until their program director submitted the ITE order and the resident has completed their PRR profile
For more information on this process, please see our How to Schedule page.
What does it cost residents for the In-training Exam (ITE)?
Residency programs pay for their residents to take the ABFAS ITE exam. The exams are ordered by the residency director, and residents then schedule their own exam with Pearson VUE testing centers through their ABFAS personal profile.
Sign-in with your ABFAS user name and password using the "Login" button at the top of the webpage. If you need password assistance, you will find it on the "Login" page.
You can read more about this process on the How to Register Your Residents page.
What is a board qualification fee?
Effective September 2020, residents who pass any component of their final year In-training Exam (ITE) will be able to use their passed exam for ABFAS board qualification purposes. There is a $300 board qualification fee for each exam that they use.
You can read more about the Board Qualification fee here.
Where are the testing sites?
ABFAS contracts with Pearson VUE to administer examinations. We offer testing sites nationwide as well as internationally. Testing sites are only used for Didactic and CBPS exams.
Case Review does not have an onsite attendance requirement.
What are the testing sites like?
All Pearson VUE test centers, regardless of type, are designed to provide a consistent, standardized testing experience in a quiet, distraction-free environment.
How do I reschedule an exam?
ABFAS allows rescheduling examinations, but rescheduling is subject to availability of examination seats at Pearson VUE Professional Centers. Typically, examination seats fill quickly, and rescheduling becomes difficult about 30 days before examination day. You can reschedule examinations within the examination window any time up to 24 hours before examination day. The process to reschedule is the same as scheduling. Sign in to the ABFAS website, and click on the blue “Schedule/View Examination with Pearson VUE” button to begin the process. There is no fee to reschedule.For additional scheduling instructions, click here.
How do I cancel an exam?
To cancel an exam, you must submit your request to cancel in writing by sending an email to: email@example.com.
What information is provided on an ABFAS verification report?
Hospitals and other credentialing organizations pay for individual verifications of podiatric surgeons undergoing the ABFAS certification process. ABFAS does not release any information about passed or failed exams. The ABFAS verification report provides information about the DPM’s podiatric medical school graduation, completion of residency training, state licensure, and the DPM’s current board status and when that status was achieved and will expire.
In accordance with standards published by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and The Joint Commission ABFAS conducts primary source verification of the podiatric medical school graduation, completion of residency training, and state licensure for each ABFAS board certified and board qualified podiatric surgeon.