Our Assessment Programs
The board offers an Exam directed to physicians during residency training called the Otolaryngology Training Examination (OTE), commonly called the “In-Service Exam” or “In-Training Exam.” This is a “practice test” which is recommended for residents and other prospective Otolaryngologist - Head and Neck Surgeons before they embark on the Primary Certification process. The objective of the test is for physicians who intend to seek board certification to gain a better understanding of strengths and limitations in their knowledge covering the entire breadth and depth in the field of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. The Exam consists of 300 multiple choice questions. Detailed score reports are provided to those who take the Exam, which allows for comparison to others at their training level.
After completing accredited training or “residency,” a physician wishing to become board certified in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery must submit an application for the Primary Certification examination process. In order to become board certified, an applicant must pass both written and oral Exams. The passing scores on these Exams are determined using a psychometrically sound process.
Written Qualifying Exam (WQE)
The first phase of the ABOHNS Primary Certification process consists of the Written Qualifying Examination. This is a written (computer-based), proctored, closed-book Examination. It is designed to measure a candidate's knowledge base across the entire depth and breadth in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Basic science, physiology, pathophysiology, fundamentals of patient care, gathering and interpreting data, diagnosis, non-surgical management, and surgical management are all comprehensibly covered.
Oral Certifying Exam (OCE)
Passing the Written Qualifying Exam makes one eligible for the Oral Certifying Exam (OCE). The ABOHNS has made the decision to incorporate cases from a candidate’s practice into the content of their OCE, beginning with the next OCE administration – which will likely be in 2025. This will be in effect for all future candidates for board certification from ABOHNS. Details about the new, practice-based OCE format will be made available in late 2023.
Once a physician becomes board certified, there are certain activities they need to complete every year to maintain that certification. These requirements broadly fall under the following general categories:
- Professionalism and Professional Standing
- Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
- Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills
- Improvement in Medical Practice
While some of the requirements are generalized for all Otolaryngologist - Head and Neck Surgeons, the Board works to focus the majority of the diplomate’s continuing certification requirements on the areas that are relevant to their everyday practice.
A doctor who is board certified in the specialty of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery may choose to specialize even further. The process for this is similar to the Primary Certification process. To obtain a Subspecialty Certification (Subcertification), a physician first participates in an ACGME-accredited subspecialty fellowship training program. Once the fellowship training is completed, the physician follows a process of assessment that may include a written exam, oral exam, or both. After they pass the required exam, they receive subcertification. One must be board certified in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck surgery with the ABOHNS before applying for a subcertification exam.
The ABOHNS currently offers subcertification for three subspecialties: Complex Pediatric Otolaryngology, Neurotology, and Sleep Medicine. For more information on the ABOHNS’ subspecialties, see What We Certify and Who We Certify.