Outcomes of the First Virtual General Surgery Certifying Exam of the American Board of Surgery.

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The American Board of Surgery (ABS) General Surgery Certifying Exam (CE) is normally an in-person oral examination. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ABS was required to reschedule these. After two small pilots, the CE’s October administration represented the first large scale remote virtual exam. The purpose of this report is to compare the outcomes of this virtual and the previous in-person CEs.CE candidates were asked to provide feedback on their experience via a survey. The passing rate was compared to the 1025 candidates who took the 2019-2020 in-person CEs.Of the 308 candidates who registered for the virtual CE, 306 completed the exam (99.4%) and 188 completed the survey (61.4%). The majority had a very positive experience. They rated the virtual CE as very good/excellent in security (90%), ease of exam platform (77%), audio quality (71%), video quality (69%), and overall satisfaction (86%). Notably, when asked their preference, 78% preferred the virtual exam. There were no differences in the passing rates between the virtual or in-person exams.The first virtual CE by the ABS was completed using available internet technology. There was high satisfaction, with the majority preferring the virtual platform. Compared to past in-person CEs, there was no difference in outcomes as measured by passing rates. These data suggest that expansion of the virtual CE may be desirable.

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Authors: Herbert Chen, Jennifer F Tseng, Rabih Chaer, David A Spain, John H Stewart, Daniel Dent, Beatriz Ibáñez, Carol L Barry, Andrew T Jones, Jo Buyske