Board Certification

When choosing to have plastic surgery, the best advice is to choose from the limited list of Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in your area. Many other physicians and surgeons choose to perform various plastic surgery procedures such as facelifts, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, liposuction, etc., but are not Board Certified in Plastic Surgery and have therefore not completed the rigorous and comprehensive training that is required to be eligible for Board Certification in Plastic Surgery.

Although there are many “Board Certifications” that are marketed by physicians, such as “oculo-plastic surgery”, “facial plastic surgery”, “dermoplastic surgery”, and such, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes only 24 general and subspecialty Certifications. “Oculo-plastic surgery”, “facial plastic surgery”, “dermoplastic surgery” are NOT recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as true board certifications. The physicians using these titles have not fulfilled the requirements of a real plastic surgery training program; thus, cannot legally refer to themselves as “Board Certified Plastic Surgeons”.

Of the 24 specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), most of these boards have residency pathways. Each specialty board decides the extent/scope of training and requirements for it’s own specialty.

Upon completing a residency and passing special exams, the physician may now practice as a recognized specialist in his/her chosen field. For most medical specialties completion of a residency is currently the only way to be recognized as a member of a particular specialty board.

Some specialties offer additional training after a Doctor completes his/her Residency.

These post residency training programs are called fellowships. Fellowships focus more narrowly on a specific area of medicine within a specialty area. For example, Plastic Surgery is a specialized focus in the field of surgery. Becoming a Plastic Surgeon can take from 3 to 5 additional years of training after surgical residency requirements are completed. Thus, making the route to becoming a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon from 5 to 9 or 10 years long.

There are several reasons a physician may want to be recognized as “Board Certified”:

  1. Certificate acknowledges that a physician is recognized by his peers as a specialist in his chosen field. Many physicians take pride in this accomplishment.
  2. There is a perception by the general public that being board certified means the physician is competent.
  3. An extremely important reason in recent years is that physicians may need to be board certified in order to practice (make a living) in their chosen specialty. Many medical/physician groups, hospitals, and insurance companies have arbitrarily used board certification as the main criteria to decide issues such as whether or not a physician can work at a given facility and how he/she will be reimbursed.

Being “Board Certified” means that the physician has met the requirements of the specialty board he is certified in. For the specialties belonging to the ABMS this means having completed a training program in a specific specialty (Plastic Surgery for example) then passing an examination. Depending on the specialty, this examination may either be a written test or a combination of a written and oral test. Each specialty decides what it’s criteria for passing will be.

The test is an attempt to determine whether or not the physician has the prerequisite knowledge base for that specialty. The oral test (in some specialties) is a further attempt to evaluate physician judgment/decision making abilities. A physician who completes a residency will not be recognized as board certified unless he/she passes the board examinations.

Approved ABMS Member Board General and Subspecialty Certificates

  • American Board of Allergy & Immunology
  • American Board of Anesthesiology
  • American Board of Colon & Rectal Surgery
  • American Board of Dermatology
  • American Board of Emergency Medicine
  • American Board of Family Medicine
  • American Board of Internal Medicine
  • American Board of Medical Genetics
  • American Board of Neurological Surgery
  • American Board of Nuclear Medicine
  • American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • American Board of Ophthalmology
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • American Board of Otolaryngology
  • American Board of Pathology
  • American Board of Pediatrics
  • American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • American Board of Preventive Medicine
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • American Board of Radiology
  • American Board of Surgery
  • American Board of Thoracic Surgery
  • American Board of Urology