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Residency Training FAQ

If you have a question that is not answered below, contact Jeff Melia at jmelia@acvs.org or 301-916-0200 x102.
For questions relating to program registration, please visit the Program Registration Frequently Asked Questions Page.

Choose a general topic from the list below:

Access to CERT Tracking System

Q: How can I get or change my login name or password?
A: Users can retrieve their login information by visiting the forgotten login page. To change your existing login name and password, visit the update your login info page.

Q: I'm a new resident. Why can't I access the resident log system?
A: Access to the resident logs will be available once the initial steps have been taken: the resident adds their information into CERT, the program director (PD) completes the statement of compliance, and the matriculation fee is paid. The resident receive an email notification when the program director has signed the PD statement. If you are unable to access the logs and more than 30 days has passed since submitting all required materials, please contact jmelia@acvs.org for assistance.

Important Dates

Q: What deadlines do I need to be aware of throughout the course of my residency?
A: A list of residency-related deadlines is below.

Submit training requirements via online Resident Training Log

by February 1 and August 1 (must be completed by resident, approved by resident advisor, specialty service supervisor and program director for each six-month period of residency program)

Submit request to RCC for early manuscript approval on or before February 1 and August 1

Submit petition to RCC to add journal to Approved Journals List

on or before February 1 and August 1

Submit abstract for scientific presentation at the Annual Surgery Summit approximately May 1 (online submission)

Submit credentials application

on or before August 1 (upon completion of all requirements)

Submit petition to Board of Regents for extension of credentials application deadline

on or before August 1 of 2nd year of training

Apply for ACVS research grants

online submission on or before November 1

Resident Training Log Statuses

Q: My log entries are classified as "New." What does this mean?
A: Activity weeks with a status of "New" are automatically generated each week. Once the details have been entered and saved, the week moves to the status of "Awaiting RA Review" or "Awaiting Specialty Supervisor Review." 

Q: My log entries are classified as "Awaiting RA Review." What does this mean?
A: Log items with a status of "Awaiting RA Review" are pending review by the resident advisor (RA).

Q: My log entries are classified as "Requires Revisions." What does this mean?
A: Once entries are reviewed by the resident advisor, external supervisor, or specialty service supervisor, if corrections are needed, these items move to the "Requires Revisions" status and can be revised and resubmitted. The status will indicate whether revisions are being requested by the resident advisor, specialty service reviewer, or the Resident Credentialing Committee.

Q: My surgical case is classified as "Awaiting External Verification." What does this mean?
A: Surgical cases with a status of "Awaiting External Verification" are cases with a location outside of your program that are awaiting review by the supervisor you entered in the case details. In CERT, the supervisor reviews these cases online after receiving an email notification. External surgical cases logged in CERT will no longer require physical signatures on the External Surgical Rotation Form.

Q: My log entries are classified as "Submitted." What does this mean?
A: Log items that have been reviewed by the appropriate supervisor (resident advisor, external supervisor, or specialty service supervisor) move in the “Submitted” status. This status means the items are ready for review by the Resident Credentialing Committee for the next deadline. The deadlines for logs to be ready for review are February 1 and August 1. Once the deadline passes, log items in the "Submitted" status will move to the "Awaiting Committee Review" status. Log items which are not complete prior to the deadline will not be reviewed until after the next stated deadline. 

Q: My Semi-Annual Review says that it is "Pending PD Signoff." What does this mean?
A: Once a Semi-Annual Review has been submitted by the resident advisor, the program director must approve it. For cases where the resident advisor and the program director are the same person, the review will go through a one-step process and bypass the “Pending PD Signoff” status.

Q: My Semi-Annual Review says that it is "Pending Resident Acknowledgement." What does this mean?
A: Once a Semi-Annual Review has been approved by the program director, the resident must acknowledge that the review has been viewed before it will move to the "Awaiting Committee Review" status.

Q: My log entries are classified as "Awaiting Committee Review." What does this mean?
A: Log items which are “Awaiting Committee Review” are pending review by one or both of the assigned Resident Credentialing Committee reviewers. Items will remain in this status until both reviewers have reviewed an item and it has been approved or returned to the resident for revisions.

Q: My Specialty Service week/case/hours entry is classified as "Awaiting Specialty Supervisor." What does this mean?
A:Log items with a status of "Awaiting Specialty Supervisor" are pending review by the rotation/case supervisor as specified in the Specialty Service entry. The online log system sends automated emails to the supervisor with instructions on how to approve the entry. These emails are sent immediately to the email address entered into the activity. when the entry is submitted and reminders are sent every Monday until the it has been approved. Review emails can be resent on-demand by editing and re-saving the activity.

Log Entry Recommendations

Q: Are there any available resources to help with the completion of my logs?
A: The Resident Credentialing Committee has created a number of resource documents to provide guidance to residents and supervisors in advance of the log review deadlines.

Activity Weeks and Cases

Q: I am short on cases in a particular category and have an opportunity to perform the procedure during an off-clinic specialty rotation or research week. Will this be acceptable?
A: Off-clinic weeks with requirements (Specialty Service rotations, Research/Manuscript Preparation weeks) are intended to be protected time to focus on that activity outside of the surgical suite. The Residency Training Standards and Requirements states:

  • Non-surgical weeks with elective procedures performed will be declined.
  • Specialty service weeks will be declined unless performed procedures are “curriculum required” [shortfall cases] or “emergency” procedures. Performance of routine cases will cause declination of the specialty service week. Additionally, residents attending a specialty service will not follow cases they consulted on to the OR when they are referred to the surgical service.
  • Emergency surgeries, curriculum essential surgeries, and surgeries performed on “weekends” will not be cause for declination of weeks.

Committee members will review submitted training. It is considered standard procedure for the committee to decline activity weeks/specialty service entries with non-emergency cases for explanation/clarification. If entries are declined due to logged cases that you believe are essential for the completion of your requirements, you should resubmit the entry for re-review and provide an appropriate clarification/explanation in the resubmit reason field. The committee is not able to give a definitive approval or confirm acceptability of these entries in advance of completing the actual log reviews after the subsequent deadline since an evaluation of the overall caseload and other logged items are relevant to confirming that the case was "essential" to meeting requirements.

Educational Events

Q: Am I required to log educational events?
A: Educational events must be logged and reviewed along with all other log items and will be reviewed by the Resident Credentialing Committee. Residents must participate in educational events on average a minimum once of every two weeks throughout the residency. See the ACVS Residency Training Standards and Requirements corresponding to your residency start date for details and requirements.

Q: Are seminars able to be logged as educational events?
A: No. Presenting at or attending a seminar does not count toward educational event requirements.

Q: Are ACVS webinars able to be logged as educational events?
A: Yes.

Specialty Service Cases and Rotations

Q: Where can I find a list of the objectives for Specialty Service rotations?
A: The lists of objectives can be found in the ACVS Residency Training Standards and Requirements corresponding to your residency start date. Listed objectives vary based on the type of rotation, residency type (small animal vs. large animal), and the year the resident started.

Q: Do I need to complete any/all of the objectives for my specialty training to count?
A: "Required objectives" must be completed in order for the training to be acceptable. It is anticipated that many of the "recommended objectives" might be completed by the end of the residency, although they are not required for training to be acceptable. These objectives, as listed in the ACVS Residency Training Standards and Requirements corresponding to your residency start date, should be shared with the allied specialty Diplomates who supervise the resident during the required specialty rotations.

Q: Am I required to log Specialty Service cases?
A: Residents are required to fulfill Specialty Service case requirements in anesthesiology and pathology in addition to the core curriculum case requirements. These requirements are stated in the objectives for the respective Specialty Service rotations in the ACVS Residency Training Standards and Requirements.

Q: Can neurosurgery cases count when logged during a neurology special rotation week?
A: No. To qualify for the ACVIM-supervised Specialty Service rotation requirement, surgical cases should not be cut. Time spent on these special rotation weeks is meant to gain internal medicine experience outside the surgery suite. If neurosurgery cases are being cut during the rotation, it would be a neurosurgery rotation which would qualify as a surgical week.

Q: My specialty rotation/case supervisor did not receive the email to approve the entry in my logs. Can the email get resent?
A: Approval emails for specialty rotations, cases, and hours are automatically resent every Monday to the address entered on the activity. Emails can also be resent on-demand by editing and re-saving the entry. Verify that the email address listed on the log entry is correct before re-sending review notification emails.

Semi-Annual Reviews

Q: What dates should we use when submitting a Semi-Annual Review?
A: Semi-Annual Reviews should span approximately six months and are typically submitted during the month prior to the February 1 and August 1 log review deadlines. If there has been a change in program director or resident advisor since the last review was submitted, it is necessary to coordinate review end dates with the change dates for these Diplomate supervisors. This may result in two or more Semi-Annual Reviews within the six-month period between log review deadlines. Please see the Change in Program Director or Resident Advisor section below for details relating to Semi-Annual Reviews when there is a PD or RA change.

Q: Are Semi-Annual Reviews required for the submission of my logs at each deadline?
A: Effective as of the transition to the new CERT log system, the submission of individual log entries for each upcoming deadline is no longer directly tied to the submission of a Semi-Annual Review. Each individual entry moves to the "Submitted" status independent of the existence or status of a Semi-Annual Review. However, resident advisors and program directors are still required to submit Semi-Annual Reviews for residents at least every six months and must span the entirety of the resident's training. These are typically coordinated with the log review deadlines and the end of the residency but can be done more frequently as a resident's status changes. 

Log Approval

Q: How does a resident advisor know if there are items to be reviewed?
A: When a resident advisor logs into CERT, they will see a Resident Advisor Portal section with a list of assigned residents and the number of entries to be reviewed. After clicking into an individual resident's logs, there will be a pink header message if items need review that will take them directly to a review portal screen where all activities pending review are available in one place. The CERT system also sends periodic email reminder notifications when there are items pending RA review, although these are not intended to be real-time alerts.

Q: There are older items in my logs that are "Awaiting RA Review" which are dated from the time of a previous resident advisor. Who should review these?
A: Individual log item reviews are the responsibility of the resident advisor who is assigned to the resident. When there is a change in resident advisor, the outgoing resident advisor should complete all reviews prior to the change in resident advisor being completed. The CERT system will allow the new RA to review entries from the previous resident advisor's time. (NOTE: Currently, resident advisors lose access to the logs of former residents once the change is made in the system. ACVS is working with the developers to configure access for former resident advisors to complete reviews from their time after their role has ended.)

Q: My program director is unable to approve any of the cases/weeks/seminars in my logs. What is happening?
A: Program directors do not sign off on each individual entry in a resident’s logs. The program director is responsible for approving the Semi-Annual Review submitted by the resident advisor.

Q: My program director or resident advisor is on vacation or has taken a leave of absence. Can someone else review my logs?
A: No. Program directors and resident advisors are responsible for fulfilling their respective responsibilities within the program by the stated deadlines. Failure to complete these responsibilities on time could result in negative consequences for the resident(s) including inability to submit credentials upon completion of the requirements.

Q: My Specialty Service case/rotation supervisor has not received the email to approve my entry. Can you resend the email?
A: The Specialty Service approval emails are sent through an automated process from the log system immediately once the rotation/case/hours entry is submitted. Most often these emails are getting overlooked or spam trapped. You should have your advisor check their spam mail for emails from certification@acvs.org. Reminder emails are sent automatically every Monday starting when the entry was submitted. To resend an email to the supervisor more quickly, click the pencil icon and re-save the entry. A new email will be sent.

You should also verify that the email address for the supervisor is correct in the activity entry. Once the information has been corrected and re-saved, a new approval email will be sent to the updated email address.

Q: How long does it take for the status of a log item to update once my supervisor/advisor has completed their reviews?
A: The status of a log item will update in the logs immediately once appropriate action has been taken. If an item is still in a status other than where you expect it to be, consult the Resident Training Log Statuses section above to find out what action is needed.

Q: My advisor/supervisor says that they approved an entry in my logs. However, the log system still shows it as "Awaiting RA Review," "Awaiting External Verification," or "Awaiting Specialty Supervisor Review." What do I need to do?
A: If the log system shows an entry in a status indicating supervisor review is needed, then the review has not been recorded in the training log system and needs to be reviewed.

Change in Program Director or Resident Advisor

Q: My resident advisor has changed. What paperwork do I need to submit?
A: Your new resident advisor needs to submit a Registration of Resident Advisor indicating the date the change became effective. This form needs to be sent to the ACVS office within 15 days of the effective date of a change in resident advisor.

Q: What does my resident advisor need to do in the online logs to prepare for a resident advisor change?
A: Resident advisors are responsible for review of all items dated from their time as RA for the resident even if their end date has passed. The outgoing resident advisor must submit a Semi-Annual Review with an end date of the last day as RA to close out their time. Review of all individual log entries up through that date are the responsibility of the outgoing RA. Entries dated after the change date are the responsibility of the new resident advisor.

Q: My program director has changed. What paperwork do I need to submit?
A: Your new program director must submit a Change in Program Director form indicating the date the change became effective for each resident in your program. This form must be filed with the ACVS office within 15 days of the effective date of the change.

Q: What do resident advisors and program directors need to do in the online logs to prepare for a program director change?
A: Before the new program director can be set up in the online system, all log items must be completed for all residents in the program location. Residents need to submit all of their weeks, cases, and seminars for RA approval. Resident advisors need to approve all of the log items from the timeframe of the outgoing program director. A final Semi-Annual Review needs to be submitted by the resident advisor with an end date exactly matching the final day of the outgoing PD. Once all RAs in the program have submitted Semi-Annual Reviews for each of their residents, the PD has approved all reviews and the residents have acknowledged viewing them, the PD role can be assigned to the incoming program director in CERT.

Change in Program Location

Q: I am moving to another location to continue my residency. What paperwork do I need to submit?
A: Your new program director must submit a Program Director's Statement indicating the date your training starts at the new program. This form must be filed with the ACVS office within 30 days of the effective date of the change. Your new resident advisor needs to submit a Registration of Resident Advisor indicating the date the change became effective. This form needs to be sent to the ACVS office within the first calendar quarter of the effective date of change. All log items and reviews must be complete at the previous residency location before the resident can be set up at the new location in CERT.

The resident will need to enter all necessary cases, weeks, etc. and the resident advisor will need to review the logs up through the last day of the program. The resident advisor must submit a Semi-Annual Review up to the last day the resident was in the program, the program director must approve it, and the resident must acknowledge it before the resident can be set up at the new location in CERT.

Manuscript/Publication Submission

Q: Can I have my manuscript reviewed prior to submitting my credentials?
A: Yes. Residents may submit their manuscript for early review by the Resident Credentialing Committee. Manuscripts will be accepted for the February 1 and August 1 deadlines for review. This policy is outlined in the Residency Program Guidelines, Optional Early Review of Publication Accepted in an Approved Journal.

Q: How do I submit my manuscript for early review?
A: All residents wishing to submit a publication for early review by the Resident Credentialing Committee should upload their manuscript in CERT (cert.acvs.org) prior to the February 1 or August 1 deadline. NOTE: The process for submitting a manuscript in CERT for the fall 2023 reviews is currently under construction and will be available in advance of the August 1, 2023 submission deadline.

Q: Are retrospective case series acceptable for the publication requirement?
A: Retrospective studies are acceptable. Cases and case-series are reports, not studies, and therefore are not acceptable. The key is adherence to the scientific method.

Phase I Examination

Q: How do I log off-clinic activity weeks dedicated to studying for the Phase I examination?
A: Weeks spent studying for the Phase I examination should be logged with the assignment type of "Independent Study" and the activity type of "CE/Vacation/Other."

Credentials Application

Q: I have completed my requirements; how does my program director close out my logs?
A: More information on the process in 2023 for closing logs at the end of training will be posted soon.

Q: Do I need to wait until my 3rd year logs are reviewed by the Resident Credentialing Committee before submitting my credentials application?
A: No. Credentials applications must be submitted by the August 1 deadline. 3rd year logs will be reviewed at the same time as credentials applications.

Q: Can I get an extension for the credentials application deadline?
A: For residency programs that start after July 25, you may submit a petition to Board of Regents for extension of the credentials application deadline from August 1 to August 10. Petitions must be submitted in advance of the third year. Petitions must be made in writing and sent to the Board in care of the ACVS office. Extensions are for submission of the credentials application only. All residency training and publication requirements must still be met prior to August 1.

Q: How do I know if the letter of acceptance I received from the journal for my publication is sufficient?
A: Publication acceptance letters must indicate that the manuscript has been accepted without the need for changes to the substance of the content. Acceptance pending editorial changes (such as grammar, formatting, etc.) is acceptable. Publications must be accepted prior to August 1 in the year credentials are submitted.


Q: What is the proper terminology to use to designate my status as a surgery resident?
A: Active residents may use terms such as: "resident in veterinary surgery" or "veterinary surgery resident." Individuals who have completed residency training, but are not board certified by ACVS may indicate only that their practice is “limited to the practice of surgery. For more detailed information please see the Board-Certified Status Terminology page.