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Neurosurgeons Strive to Become Board Certified—But Not Without a Passing Grade

Dr. Christopher Winfree Assists Budding neurosurgeons become board certified

What do a plumber, a personal trainer and a piece of steak have in common? We want them to be certified—that official stamp of approval or, quite literally, the framed certificate hanging above an office desk, which guarantees that what we ask for is what we’ll get.

Okay, so a rib-eye steak doesn’t have a certificate, or even a desk, but the butcher who cut it and sold it sure does, and we’re grateful to bring home that cut of meat knowing the quality is guaranteed.

Selecting a neurosurgeon is even more important. Patients seek a neurosurgeon they know will offer them the best guidance and treatment—one who is board certified in neurological surgery.

But what’s often overlooked are the quiet leaders who maintain this standard by helping certify future generations of neurosurgeons.

Columbia neurosurgeons Dr. Jeffrey Bruce, Dr. E. Sander Connolly and Dr. Christopher Winfree are three of them.

To become certified in neurological surgery, candidates must meet certain requirements set by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, or ABNS. Dr. Bruce is Chairman and Dr. Connolly is a member of this board.

After completing seven years of training in neurological surgery under the guidance of seasoned neurosurgeons, candidates take a written examination and, finally, sit for an oral examination.

That’s where Dr. Winfree comes in.

This past fall, Dr. Winfree was a guest examiner for the ABNS oral examination, a face-to-face test where candidates are presented with a series of clinical scenarios. The candidate must explain the possible diagnoses and treatment options, including what to do when a problem arises. Unlike the 375-question written exam that tests a candidate’s knowledge of all areas of clinical neuroscience, the oral exam delves deeper and evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of and judgment in practicing clinical neurosurgery.

As a guest examiner, Dr. Winfree graded candidates’ responses, and the ABNS used these grades to determine whether a candidate should be board certified. Upon meeting the training requirements and passing the two exams, candidates are recognized by the ABNS as certified Diplomates of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Although getting this certification is the standard now, it hasn’t always existed. The top leaders in the organizations listed below recognized the need for in-depth training and specific qualifications to practice in this complex field.

Thus, the ABNS and the certification process were born, in 1940.

Neurosurgeons continue to pursue this standard to make sure patients receive the best care, but only with the help of neurosurgeons like Dr. Bruce, Dr. Connolly, and Dr. Winfree who actively maintain this high standard through their participation in the ABNS.

Learn more about Dr. Bruce on his bio page here.

Learn more about Dr. Connolly on his bio page here.

Learn more about Dr. Winfree on his bio page here.

Related articles:

Health Care on D.C. Agenda for Drs. Winfree and Bruce
Dr. Christopher Winfree Gives Prep Lecture for Neurosurgery Board Recert

Image Credit: iQoncept/Dollar Photo Club

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