In this post, I would like to clarify the issue of Board Certification in Plastic Surgery. Many doctors are “Board Certified”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are Board Certified in Plastic Surgery or anything resembling Plastic Surgery. Board Certification is usually associated with a specific area of medicine. For example, an OB/GYN doctor would be Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (https://www.abog.org/) and an Internal Medicine doctor would be Board Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (https://www.abim.org/). Plastic Surgeons are Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (https://www.abplasticsurgery.org/). All of these board certifications fall under the American Board of Medical Specialties (https://www.abms.org/). This organization works with the 24 specialty boards to maintain the standards for Board Certification. Confused yet?
What is confusing is that there is no law regarding what a doctor can label himself as and there are many “Boards” that do not fall under the American Board of Medical Specialties. There is no board certification for Cosmetic Surgery included in the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Residents entering plastic surgery training must complete 5 progressive years of clinical general surgery residency training, sufficient to qualify for certification by the American Board of Surgery (ABS), or approved alternate subspecialty pathway.
The Board requires a minimum of 3 years of Plastic Surgery Training for Independent programs and 6 years for Integrated programs. The final year must be at the level of senior responsibility.
To qualify for an Application for Examination and Certification in Plastic Surgery, candidates must have a Final Confirmation Letter issued by the Board.
Candidates must hold active, inpatient admitting medical staff privileges in plastic surgery in a United States, Canadian or international hospital throughout the examination process.
Candidates must have a current, full, valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine with an expiration date valid through the examination.
Active practice in plastic surgery is a requirement for admissibility to the Oral Examination.
If you meet the above requirements, you can sit for the written and oral exam which you must pass to become Board Certified. If you have finished an accredited Plastic Surgery residency but have not take your written or oral board exam, you are considered to be Board Eligible. After you become Board Certified, you have to maintain your certification (Maintenance of Certification) and, until recently, you had to re-certify every 10 years by taking a written examination.
So now you know how to become Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. In the next post, I will discuss how to know if your Plastic Surgeon is Board Certified and what some of the other “Boards” are and what their requirements are.
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I received an advertisement in the mail today for a “Plastic Surgeon”. It was in one of those mailers with multiple cards for various services. I won’t mention the doctor but he seemed to have a lot of letters after his name (must be well trained). They were from organizations like the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and The American Society of Liposuction Surgery. Sounds impressive, huh?! As a plastic surgeon, I feel it is my obligation to educate my patients and the general public about what it takes to become a plastic surgeon and what the important organizations are in the plastic surgery world. In upcoming posts, I will also take a look at what it takes to become a member of the organizations listed above. I will break this into multiple posts.
*4 years of college
*4 years of medical school
*5 years of general surgery residency
*3 years of plastic surgery residency
After all this training, I had to take a written and oral exam to become Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery www.abplasticsurgery.org
There are other routes to board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is just the way I did it.
I will discuss the important organizations in Plastic Surgery and the importance of Board Certification in Plastic Surgery in Part 2.
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