Colorectal Surgeon Education & Training

Colon and rectal surgery is a surgical specialty. Following graduation from a 4-year undergraduate program and successful completion of an accredited 4-year medical program, physicians who wish to become surgeons enter a general surgery residency. A surgical residency involves 5 to 6 years of extensive training.

After completing his or her surgical residency, the surgeon undergoes an additional 1 to 2 years of training to specialize in colon and rectal surgery. Colorectal surgeons must have a minimum of 14 years of education and training before they can apply for board certification.

Colorectal Surgeon Board Certification

In the United States, colorectal surgeons are certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS). To become board certified in colon and rectal surgery, surgeons must be proficient in the field of general surgery; must demonstrate expertise in the diagnosis of and medical and surgical treatment of colorectal disorders; and must pass written and oral examinations.

Colorectal surgeons must meet the following education, training, and examination requirements to obtain board certification:

  • Undergraduate (e.g., Bachelor's of Science) or advanced (e.g., Master’s) degree
  • Graduation from an accredited medical school (M.D. or D.O.)
  • Completion of at least 5 years of general surgical residency
  • Completion of at least 1 year of colon and rectal surgical residency
  • Achieved an adequate level of experience in the preoperative, operative, and postoperative management of colorectal disorders
  • Successful completion of the written Qualifying examination and the oral Certifying examination (administered by the American Board of Surgery)
  • Provide a detailed record of colorectal surgery experience
  • Submit recommendations from training program directors
  • Successful completion of the written Qualifying examination and the oral Certifying examination (administered by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery)

The oral examination administered by the ABCRS involves an interview with three teams of prominent colorectal surgeons. During the interview, the surgeons evaluate the candidate's ability to manage colon and rectal surgical problems to determine if he or she should be granted board certification. Surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery have the initials F.A.C.S. (Fellow of the American College of Surgeons) and F.A.S.C.R.S. (Fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons) after their names.

Colorectal surgeons are re-certified every 10 years. During re-certification, the colorectal surgeon's credentials are reviewed to make sure that he or she has maintained continuing medical education (CME) in the field, actively practices colon and rectal surgery, and is respected by his or her peers. After successfully completing a written examination, the colorectal surgeon is re-certified.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 13 Nov 2008

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015