There has been much said recently about competent plastic surgery, with numerous television programs devoted to topics such as “botched” plastic surgeries and numerous Internet articles discussing a “10 Best” list for whatever the latest surgical miracle is available. Just as being competent is important (because neither doctor nor patient wants to experience a surgery gone wrong), it should also be every doctor’s priority to be a true patient advocate. Medical specialty certification, also known as board certification, is one way to display that level of care.
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When a person completes his or her medical school curriculum, they are required to pass an examination that allows them to request a medical license from whichever state they would like to practice. There are two paths that a student can take to become a physician: they can obtain their M.D. (Medical Doctor) or their D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree.
Once these examinations have been successfully taken and passed, the student is then considered a “doctor”. However, being a doctor and becoming a board-certified physician are two entirely different things. Medical licensure simply sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients. It is not specific for any particular specialty or discipline of medical practice.
Board certification in the United States is a voluntary process and it demonstrates a physician’s expertise in a particular field of medical practice. Make no mistake, board certification is earned, not given. It represents a doctor’s commitment to achieving superior clinical outcomes with regard to their knowledge, experience and diagnostic skills to provide quality healthcare within that given specialty.
Check Up On It: American Board of Medical Specialties
Established in 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a not-for-profit organization comprising 24 medical specialty Member Boards, is the pre-eminent entity overseeing the certification of physician specialists in the United States.
The mission of the American Board of Medical Specialties is to serve the public and the medical profession by improving the quality of health care through setting professional standards for lifelong certification in partnership with Member Boards. It is the gold standard in physician credentialing and prompts both the medical community and patients to inquire whether or not a physician is Board certified.
Here are three options to learn if your current doctor or a new doctor you’re considering is Board certified:
- Do an online search here.
- Call the ABMS directly at 1-866-275-2267
- Contact any of the 24 Member Boards here. You can request written verification of Board Certification.
Don’t be fooled by the letters at the beginning or end of a name – not all doctors are trained equally. Protect yourself by making an informed decision before undergoing any medical procedure.
For more articles from Dr. Flagg, click here.