Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What does "Board Certified" mean?

As a board certified plastic surgeon, it is always frustrating when I see a patient who has had surgery "elsewhere" , and they are sure the surgery was done by a plastic surgeon. However, when I look up the credentials, the person is definitely NOT a plastic surgeon!!  How can there be such confusion?

When a person graduates from medical school and has the MD degree (or if they graduate from an osteopathic school with a DO degree), they can choose to call themselves anything they want--I could call myself a brain surgeon if I wanted to, even without any training!  In most states, there isn't a law that says I can't.  I could open my own surgery center in my office, and do all the brain surgery I wanted without anyone telling me that I couldn't.

So what does it mean to be a board certified plastic surgeon, certified by THE AMERICAN BOARD OF PLASTIC SURGERY?  It means that after 4 years of medical school, I completed 2 years of plastic surgery training in an accredited program after 3 years of general surgery. Additionally, I completed a one year burn fellowship that was run by the plastic surgery department of the university hospital. After completing the residency, I took a very, very extensive written examination.  A year later, I took an oral examination that lasted 2 days (and yes, I passed).  The examination is very rigorous, and about 20% of examinees fail on their first attempt.

The American Board of Medical Specialties is the governing body that looks at residency programs to make sure that the training is adequate.  Each graduate must meet certain requirements. The boards that are recognized are pretty typical--pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, orthopedics, neurosurgery, ENT, urology, plastic surgery, general surgery, dermatology,  and a few more.  Each one of these specialties has a very rigorous examination process.

There are some "boards" that are not approved or regulated by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  This includes anti-aging, "cosmetic board", liposuction board, and many other sound alike names.

Isn't it funny--no one  pretends to be a brain surgeon without the training. But many physicians try to be a plastic surgeon without the training.

Do your homework. Find a plastic surgeon who is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Be smart. Be safe. www.abplsurg.org

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