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ABS Welcomes Dr. Karen Brasel as Vice President

Jan. 10, 2024 Media Contact: Alyson Maloney, 215-568-4000

The American Board of Surgery (ABS), the national certifying body for general surgeons and related specialists, is pleased to welcome Dr. Karen Brasel as the new vice president of the organization, following a nationwide search.

Karen Brasel, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S, is a professor of surgery for the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, general surgery residency program director, vice chair of education and professional development, and assistant dean for graduate medical education at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Her clinical practice is trauma/critical care and emergency general surgery, and her research focuses on surgical palliative care, ethics, education, and quality of life after trauma. She will maintain a part-time clinical role at OHSU when she assumes the vice president role with the ABS on May 1, 2024.

Dr. Brasel completed medical school at the University of Iowa, followed by general surgery residency training and a master's degree in public health at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Brasel also completed a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of North Carolina.

In 2004, Dr. Brasel joined the ABS as an associate examiner, then later served on the General Surgery Qualifying Exam Consultant Committee from 2008-2012. She was nominated to the ABS Board of Directors in 2012 by the American Surgical Association and served as chair of the Certifying Exam Committee from 2013-2018. Dr. Brasel led the initial ABS General Surgery EPA Pilot from 2018-2020, and since then has been heavily involved in the ABS EPA Project as a senior volunteer consultant; she was a member of both the General Surgery EPA Scope Council and Advisory Council, and also served as a facilitator for the General Surgery EPA Writing Group.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an incredibly committed staff and volunteer group to facilitate the transition to competency-based residency training," said Dr. Brasel of her new role as vice president. "A major goal of mine is full integration of EPAs into general surgery and surgical subspecialties with residents, faculty, and program leadership who are excited about the possibilities this allows for the future! I also look forward to supporting the ABS specialty boards in innovations and work beyond EPAs."

Dr. Brasel's responsibilities will include but are not limited to: complete oversight of and leadership in the development and implementation of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs); management of new or evolving ABS initiatives; oversight of exam development and the recruitment, training and retention of examiners, item writers, and consultants for the ABS specialty boards; and leadership in the analysis, improvement, and validation of testing methods to better define competence in practice.

A nationally-recognized surgical leader, Dr. Brasel has held multiple leadership positions., including most recently chair of the ACGME Review Committee for Surgery. She is a member of the Association for Program Directors in Surgery Board of Directors (APDS), an associate editor of the APDS’s Journal of Surgical Education, and the current program chair for the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma as well as past chair of the organization’s Critical Care Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She previously served as vice chair on the Executive Committee of the American College of Surgeons Board of Governors, sub-committee chair of SESAP, and as the ACS Committee on Trauma ATLS Sub-Committee Chair and international director of ATLS®. In addition, she has served as a test committee representative to the National Board of Medical Examiners, is a former member of the USMLE Management Committee, and is also a founding ACS Master Educator.

Dr. Brasel served as chair of the Curriculum Committee for the Association for Surgical Education from 2007-2009 and received the Association for Surgical Education Master Educator Award in 2020.

"Dr. Brasel has served the public and the profession in a myriad of ways throughout her career," said Dr. Buyske, president and CEO of the ABS. "Her deep experience, relationships, and significant leadership roles in our partner societies and organizations, as well as the deep respect she commands throughout the house of surgery, will be integral to fulfilling our mission going forward."


About the ABS
  • The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of surgical training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. They must then maintain their board certification through ongoing learning and practice improvement activities.
  • The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

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