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Subspecialty Certification Standards in COVID-19 Pandemic FAQs

Posted on March 31, 2020
Updated on April 24, 2020


As we navigate this unprecedented health pandemic, ABOG seeks to assure all programs and fellows that we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 updates and taking supportive steps to relieve the stress caused by preparing to meet certification standards. It is important to ABOG that we be flexible in our requirements so as not to create undue personal and administrative burden while continuing to ensure trainees achieve the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for independent practice. As such, all policies may be updated as the situation unfolds. View the COVID-19 policy here.


If you have any questions not addressed in these FAQs, please email fellowship@abog.org.



The Program Director for an affected fellow may send a letter to fellowship@abog.org requesting this extension for research. This request should include an explanation of why the extension is being requested and an updated project plan indicating the new timeline, including new projected end date.

Fellows may change their projects at any time. To ensure the thesis meets ABOG requirements for exam eligibility, programs are highly encouraged to send thesis changes to the Board for review and approval. It is not ABOG's intention for any fellow to complete training with a thesis that would not be eligible for use during the Certifying Exam.

In the interest of ensuring acceptability, a Program Director may submit a fellow's thesis for review if there is a need to change what was previously reviewed and approved by the Division. This thesis summary should include the same information as was collected during the Annual Report. To receive a template indicating these sections, email fellowship@abog.org. Completed thesis summaries should be emailed to fellowship@abog.org. A response from the Division will be provided as quickly as possible.

ABOG recognizes that third year fellows are particularly affected by these changes, as they do not have ample time to adjust their schedules before they complete training in a few months. ABOG does not want to keep fellows from being eligible for certification, but we also do not want a fellow to miss out on key experiences and risk missing required knowledge, skills, and ability necessary to achieve certification.

If a Program Director believes that a fellow has achieved substantially the same experience as would be provided in a specific rotation and will therefore not be disadvantaged in taking the examinations, the Program Director will be able to attest that a fellow met “equivalent experience” at the end of training. This will be completed on the required Fellowship Training Affidavit. Program Directors are not required to get approval from ABOG for equivalent experience.

Per the ABOG COVID-19 policy, time spent in quarantine may count as clinical experience. This policy, however, was not intended to act as a substitute for specified core clinical rotations. If the fellow is able to complete the required rotation at a later time, they should do so. If, however, this is not possible (for instance, a third year fellow is placed in quarantine from COVID-19 and is unable to make up the experience), and the Program Director believes the required knowledge, skills, and abilities that would be gained from this experience were sufficiently completed in other rotations, a Program Director may attest to an "equivalent experience" as discussed in Question 3.

In general, this is discouraged. The thesis submitted by fellows should be projects not submitted to ABOG by any other fellow. Instead, research may be extended after training completion without extending the training end date. Please see Question 1 for instructions on requesting this extension. We can, however, accept exception requests for shared projects in extenuating circumstances. Please email fellowship@abog.org for an exception.

ABOG is concerned for the health and welfare of all trainees, physicians, and patients. While research continues to be a priority for ABOG, we will waive this requirement to allow fellows to provide necessary patient care. If the time spent in clinical activity requires a fellow to extend time in research to complete a thesis, that extension may be requested as discussed in Question 1.

ABOG relies on Program Directors to attest when a fellow has achieved the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice independently. This is an administrative issue that should be handled within the institutional and program requirements of ACGME. If a fellow does not believe this standard has been met, ABOG strongly encourages programs to discuss this closely with the fellow and ensure concerns are addressed. Final decision on extensions of training will reside with the program.

ABOG hopes that when the pandemic begins to slow and institutions are able to return to a more normal level of operations, programs are allowed sufficient time to adjust for these new requirements and fellows can meet these standards. This requirement is not required to be a specified one-month block and may be met in, for example, half-day blocks of time across the length of training. It can also be met with a combination of experience, didactics, and curriculum.

If there is not sufficient time, Program Directors may attest to an "equivalent experience" as described in Question 3. Please note that ultrasound experience in not by itself enough to qualify as experience in genetics.