American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery ABOS


The first formally organized body representing orthopaedic surgery was the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) which was established in 1887.

This group met annually for fellowship and the advancement of orthopaedic surgery knowledge and science.

In 1931 the AOA formed two committees which eventually changed the entire structure of the American orthopaedic community.

The first committee was charged with establishing a permanent organization which would be more broadly based than the AOA and would not have the AOAs membership restrictions.

This was the beginning of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) which was founded in 1933.

The second committee was formed to investigate the establishment of an orthopaedic specialty board.

In January 1933 the AOA recommended the specific composition of a board for orthopaedic certification consisting of representatives of the AOA, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the section of orthopaedic surgery of the American Medical Association (AMA).

In February 1934 Articles of Incorporation were developed setting forth the objectives of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS).

Soon thereafter the ABOS formed an Examinations Committee, an Eligibility Committee and a Residency Training Committee which was responsible for the evaluation of hospitals and medical schools that were educating young surgeons to become orthopaedic surgeons.

In 1936 the ABOS published formal requirements for certification which stipulated that a candidate

(a) must be a graduate of a medical school approved by the AMA Council of Medical Education and Hospitals,

(b) must be of high ethical and professional standing,

(c) must be duly authorized to practice medicine in the state or province of his residence,

(d) must be a member of the AMA or other society approved by the AMA Council on Medical Education and Hospitals,

(e) after 1938 must have three years of concentrated instruction in orthopaedic surgery approved by and acceptable to the ABOS, and

(f) must have had two years further experience in the actual practice of orthopaedic surgery and also have knowledge of the basic medical sciences related to orthopaedic surgery.

Thus, the first formal educational standards were established for orthopaedic surgery in the United States.

The ABOS is one of 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

The ABMS had its beginnings as the advisory board for medical specialties which was fathered in 1933 by the four boards existing at that time - ophthalmology, otolaryngology, obstetrics and gynecology.

Through the years it was reorganized and renamed the American Board of Medical Specialties and all cooperating certifying boards agreed to abide by the decisions made by the ABMS.

Directors of the ABOS are elected by closed ballot from slates proposed by the AMA Council on Medical Education, the AOA and the AAOS.

Each organization nominates individuals in two of every three years.

Thus, each year two new directors are elected to the ABOS and two are retired.

Originally the ABOS consisted of nine directors - three from each of the nominating organizations.

In 1960 the Board was increased to 12 active members using the nominating process as stated above.

In the 1980's the Board changed its bylaws so that directors who completed six years of service could remain on for an additional three years as a Senior Director.

In 2002 the Board voted to add a public member who is elected for a three year term and can be reelected for an additional term of three years.

A full complement of the Board consists of two directors-elect, 12 active directors, one active public director, and six senior directors.

ABOS directors serve without compensation.


400 Silver Cedar Court
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514
United States

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