Clinical Exam


The 2024 Winter Cycle Clinical Examination application has closed early due to reaching maximum testing capacity. The 2024 Summer Cycle Clinical application will open on Nov. 1, 2023, at midnight central time.

The Board is aware of the inconvenience this presents for candidates attempting to examine. The clinical exam requires two board-certified and trained examiners to be assigned to each candidate which limits the total number of candidates that can be tested each cycle. The pandemic caused an abrupt halt to in-person examinations at the candidate site. A new virtual process was created and implemented; this took time and created testing delays. Candidates who planned to test during that time are now combined with candidates who are on the current timeline. This is causing exam cohorts to fill quickly and applications to close early.

  • All candidates who were or became board eligible in 2020 have been granted an additional year of eligibility due to the pandemic. Instead of six years of eligibility, those candidates now have seven years. For example, if you completed your residency on June 30, 2019, you are board eligible until Dec. 31, 2026.
  • While clinical exam applications are closing early, the Board has modified the Clinical Surgical Log requirement to allow your most recent cases to be up to nine months before submitting your application rather than the standard six months. This will allow those candidates who do not get into a given cohort the ability to use the same surgical log they had prepared for the next application.

New Certification Process

Note: The AOBOS is currently transitioning from its historical three-part certification process which consisted of the Part I Written, Part II Oral and Part III Clinical Exams. The new format will be a two-part process which will consist of the Part I Written and a new Part II Clinical which will include a case defense component.

Starting with the 2019-20 winter clinical cycle, those who took Part I of the Written Exam in May 2018 or after will take a new format of the Clinical Exam, which will include a case defense component.

Candidates who successfully completed the Part II Oral exam will be able to finish their certification process via the Historical Format Clinical exam.

Only successfully post Part II Oral exam candidates are eligible for the historical format.


To be eligible for certification in Orthopedic Surgery, candidates must meet the criteria below:

    • Be a graduate of a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.
    • Satisfactorily complete five years of AOA or ACGME-approved training in orthopedic surgery.
    • Must have practiced in the specialty of orthopedics (at least 75% of clinical time) and have performed at least 200 major orthopedic procedures during a minimum 12-month period and maximum 24-month period.
      • Note: for candidates applying for the clinical examination after May 2020 the surgical log case requirement has been reduced to 100 major orthopedic procedures during a minimum 12-month period and maximum 18-month period. Please be aware that the minimum collection period remains 12 months and ALL major cases in that period must be recorded.
    • Have passed the Orthopedic Surgery Written Examination.
    • Hold an unrestricted license to practice in a state or territory.
    •  Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.
    • Candidates applying for the Historical Format Part III Clinical exam must have successfully passed the Part II Oral exam, which was administered for the last time on Oct. 11, 2017.
    • Candidates applying for the New Part II Clinical exam must pass the Part I Written exam. Candidates who passed the Part II Oral exam can take this format if they choose.


At the time of application, you must submit the following to the AOBOS:

  • Surgical log documenting no fewer than 100 major surgical cases performed over a minimum 12-month period and maximum 18-month period, with the most recent cases occurring within six months of application. Log should be submitted using the AOBOS Excel template through the application portal. All cases in the minimum 12-month period must be reported even if they exceed the 100 case minimum requirement.
  • Completed Hospital Location Sheet via the application portal.
  • Mortality Review Summary via the application portal, if applicable.

Examination Fees

The Historical Format Part III Clinical examination fee of $3,000 must accompany your completed application and case logs.

The New Part II Clinical examination fee of $3,250 must accompany your completed application and case logs.

No application will be considered complete until all exam fees are paid.

If the application is not approved for the Clinical exam, 90% will be returned.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Orthopedic Surgery Clinical Exam is offered every winter and summer. It is conducted at your practice facility, usually during summer or winter. The exact time and place will be determined by you and the senior examiner. Applications are due February 15 for the summer cycle and August 15 for the winter cycle.