Since 2018, the ABCRS has used the CertLink platform to deliver approximately 12 questions to diplomates quarterly throughout the year. This process replaced the previous 10-year written “Maintenance of Certification” or “Re-Certification” examination. Two quarters each year are knowledge-based multiple choice questions covering topics germane to the practice of colon and rectal surgery. The other two quarters are article-based assessments utilizing current literature.

The CertLink system generates “clones” of questions. Diplomates will receive an additional 3-6 questions in each knowledge-based quarter. Clones are typically delivered for questions that are answered incorrectly in previous quarters. A correctly answered clone question will replace the previous incorrectly answered question for scoring purposes.

The continuing certification process is a five-year cycle. Current diplomates are entered into the process 5 years before their current certificate expires so that they will be able to complete the longitudinal assessment before expiration of their certificate. New diplomates will be entered the January following completion of the certifying examination (oral board examination).

Successful completion of the longitudinal assessment requires answering 70% of questions correctly over 16 quarters (four years). If a diplomate completes 16 consecutive quarters with 70% correct, the fifth year of the cycle is off – free from questions. Diplomates will be re-entered into a new cycle the following year.

Diplomates may request to take off up to four quarters of questions during each five-year cycle (sabbatical). Questions are not scored during a sabbatical quarter. This can be done by submitting a ticket on the CertLink platform or by emailing the board staff at certlink@abcrs.org.

For each quarter sabbatical taken, a quarter of questions will be added in the fifth year. Sabbaticals may be requested retroactively. If a sabbatical is not requested and questions are not answered, unanswered questions that quarter will be scored as incorrect.

If a diplomate fails to achieve 70% correct over 16 scored quarters, they will be given 2 more quarters of questions to attempt to bring the overall score up to 70%. If successful, they will be re-entered into the next five-year cycle as scheduled.

If a diplomate fails to reach 70% after the two additional quarters, they will be required to take a remediation in-person examination, currently planned to consist of approximately 120 questions taken from the CertLink question bank.

This will be scheduled to occur during one of the ABCRS in-person meetings, most likely in the spring. Travel will be at the diplomate’s expense and an examination fee will be assessed equal to the fee for the qualifying (written) examination. Three yearly attempts to pass the remediation examination with 70% correct will be allowed. If unsuccessful after three attempts, the diplomate will be referred to the ABCRS Standards and Credentials Committee for consideration of a formal re-entry pathway.

Participation in the quarterly assessments is the foundation of continuing certification. Diplomates who fail to answer questions in 8 or fewer of 16 scored quarters will be considered as “non-participating”. If a diplomate fails the CertLink longitudinal assessment due to non-participation, they will be offered the remediation examinations. However, if future five-year CertLink longitudinal assessment cycles are failed (due to non-participation or knowledge deficit), diplomates will not be given the opportunity to maintain ABCRS certification by taking the standard remediation examination and will instead be referred to the Standards and Credentials Committee immediately at the end of that cycle for review. There is no guarantee of allowance of re-entry.

Certlink Login

For Diplomates

CertLink Login

CertLink is an online platform that delivers questions to ABCRS Diplomates quarterly. This procedure fosters growth in medical knowledge, continuous certification and professional development.
Participation in CertLink (Part III) is a requirement of the ABCRS Continuing Certification program for diplomates certified after 1990.

CertLink Assessment for CME Credit

Diplomates will receive up to 10 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits™ per year (40 total credits over a 5-year period) for successfully completing the Quarterly CertLink Assessment with a passing score of 70%. Diplomates are able to claim only the credits commensurate with the extent of participation of this activity (2.5 credits per each quarter successfully completed) and are required to complete an annual ABCRS Course Evaluation in order to claim the CME credits. Additionally, the current Continuing Certification requirement of 90 Category 1 CME credits has been changed to 40 Category 1 CME Credits every five years with no self-assessment required.

CertLink is a longitudinal assessment tool designed for continuous learning and provides comprehensive material within the 6 key core competencies. These quarterly assessments deliver practice-relevant knowledge through two types of questions. One type is the use of questions describing clinical situations which challenge the physician to indicate the next step in care. Another type is the use of article-based questions emphasizing recent and clinically important developments. These assessments allow a physician immediate access to performance and area(s) of weakness.

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ASCRS) and The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS). ASCRS is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Disclosure Policy

ASCRS maintains a standard that its continuing medical education courses be free of commercial bias. In accord with the disclosure policy of the ASCRS as well as standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), course planners, question authors, and content reviewers have been asked to disclose any relevant relationship they, or their spouse or partner, have to companies producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients.

Disclosure Statement​

All disclosed relationships have been reviewed and managed. There are no relevant financial relationships to report.

Diplomates eligible to register for CertLink will be notified by email with registration information. Therefore, it is imperative that you make sure all of your contact information (especially your email address) is correct and up to date. Contact information can be updated by logging in to your account through the website portal.

Yes! The Board believes that a longitudinal assessment benefits all physicians, and we encourage all Diplomates not currently participating in Continuing Certification to request enrollment into CertLink by contacting the Board office.

There are no additional fees to participate in CertLink. You will only have to continue to pay your annual fees or dues.

Time Limited Diplomates ~ Continuing Certification Annual Fee is $500.
If your certificate was issued in 1990 or later, you are required to participate in Continuing Certification. The annual fee is mandatory and must be paid by December 31st of each year in order to “Meet Continuing Certification Requirements”.

Unlimited Diplomates ~ Continuing Certification Annual Dues is $200.
Participation in Continuing Certification is voluntary for those diplomates who were certified prior to 1990 are classified as “Unlimited”.

Re-entry will require submission of the following items: past dues, CME requirements, Chief of Staff Evaluation form, and documentation of Hospital Privileges.

Diplomates who are eligible to enroll in CertLink and have not met other program requirements at the time of registration will be unable to take the assessment until those requirements have been fulfilled.

With the implementation of a longitudinal assessment program (CertLink), we are currently transitioning to a 5-year cycle for all requirements (Part I, Part II and Part IV).

ABMS Board Certification Report

The ABMS Board Certification Report for 2022–2023 is a compilation of demographic information about ABMS Member Board certified physicians and medical specialists (known as diplomates), the specialty and subspecialty certificates approved by ABMS, the basic requirements for initial certification and continuing certification, and the number of certificates issued.

Need more information?

Please feel free to contact the ABCRS office at CertLink@abcrs.org or Sherry Whitenburg, Continuous Certification Coordinator at 734-282-9400.