Certified SMOMS: Dr. Kris Cooper on Passing his Boards

After 4 years of college, 4 years of dental school, and 6 years of residency, you might think that Dr. Kris Cooper was all schooled out. However, SMOMS’ newest surgeon had one more academic dragon to slay as he settled into private practice: the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery’s (ABOMS) Board Certification Exam. 

ABOMS formed in 1946 to establish a comprehensive and uniform method for examining and certifying Oral Surgeons in America. Since its founding, the Board and its examination–along with the oral surgery practice itself–has seen some dramatic changes. Today’s iteration of the ABOMS Certification Exam consists of two parts: the Qualifying Examination and the Oral Certifying Examination. 

On his quest for Board Certification, Dr. Cooper first had to apply for and complete the Qualifying Examination (QE). The QE is a computer-based exam, testing applicants’ technical knowledge of the fundamental principles of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. The Qualifying Exam contains 300 questions, addressing 10 different subject areas of the practice!

After successfully completing the QE, Dr. Cooper had three years to take–and pass!–the Oral Certifying Examination (OCE) portion. The OCE presents candidates with 3 sections, each with 4 twelve-minute cases to work through. The total time for the OCE is 144 minutes! 

Dr. Cooper didn’t waste a single minute, and signed up to take the very first OCE available after successfully completing his QE. We are thrilled to announce that he has joined the venerable list of current SMOMS surgeons, all of whom passed the ABOMS Board Certification Exam on their first attempt! 

Blog SMOMS asked Dr. Cooper a couple of questions (just what he wanted!) about the ABOMS Board Certification process:

1. What was the most difficult part of the Board Certification Exam? This is the first and only oral exam that most people take in the OMS field. We are used to more traditional, multiple-choice tests. The exam is a lot of work. But it also takes a lot of work just to be Board Eligible! You have to have a dental degree, complete an accredited Oral Surgery program, have an active State Dental License, be actively practicing Oral Surgery, and have hospital privileges just to apply to take the test! 

2. What was your favorite way to study for the Exam? My favorite way to study was in-person with other applicants. We would take turns asking each other potential board questions. It was good just to practice talking through surgical management of patients–it mimicked the actual OCE perfectly. 

3. What advice would you give to someone about to take the ABOMS Certification Exam?  I would tell people to take it as soon as they’re eligible. The closer you are to having left your residency, the more likely you are to remember all of the little detailed information about complicated surgical training. Once you enter private practice, your scope naturally narrows a bit, and some of those minute details can get lost in the shuffle just because they’re not needed or used.

Next time you’re visiting SMOMS, be sure to ask your surgeon about how they continue their education to stay at the top of their field!

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