Are all medical boards created equal?
In recent years, cosmetic procedures have changed the practice of medicine. Not long ago, cosmetic surgery was the domain of plastic surgeons. Plastic surgeons spend many years obtaining extensive training in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. They complete years of training in a surgery residency plus an additional three-year residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Because most cosmetic procedures are done in doctor’s offices, no certification by hospitals is required. (Cosmetic surgery is real surgery and complications do occur. Not having hospital privileges is significant.)
Now all it takes is a medical license to do cosmetic surgery – a family doctor, general surgeon, or even a gynecologist can take weekend courses and advertise as a cosmetic surgeon. There is a basic difference in training between a plastic surgeon and someone who might advertise as a cosmetic surgeon. As a result of the evolving landscape in cosmetic surgery, a number of cosmetic boards have been created so that physicians can obtain board certification in cosmetic surgery. But here is the thing: not all boards are created equal with some boards having much lower standards than others. When considering a physician's board certification, a patient should make sure that the board is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to confirm maintenance of higher standards, commitment to professionalism, and better care.
When a physician or surgeon is Board Certified by an ABMS specialty board, it means he or she has chosen to achieve expertise in a medical specialty or subspecialty by meeting the profession-driven standards and requirements of one (or more) of the 24 ABMS certifying boards. Board Certification and the ABMS Program for Maintenance of Certification (ABMS MOC®) are highly-visible indicators that physicians know today’s standards of practice. Board Certification is the beginning of a physician’s personal commitment to providing quality patient care. The ABMS Program for MOC activities emphasize ongoing professional development and assessment that is aligned with other professional expectations and requirements within health care. Patients expect that their physician’s certification reflects ongoing education and practice improvement. They place faith in our certifications and check their physician’s certification at ABMS’ www.certificationmatters.org over a million times per year.
Many hospitals have independently made the decision to require Board Certification for staff privileges. Their leadership recognizes that diagnostic and treatment knowledge changes rapidly and learned skills in medicine can decline over time. They value the competencies for medical practice set by the profession and create procedures for their own institutions with respect to those competencies.
Various quality organizations and health care purchasers are committed to increasing value of the care provided. They look to the ABMS specialty certification system to help them identify excellence and commitment to professionalism, and continuous performance assessment and improvement.