There was an interesting article several months ago in Health Leaders.
The article pointed out that there is every good reason for patients to understand the nature of a doctor’s training and by which board he is certified.
First let me explain that board certification implies that the doctor has “passed the tests.” The tests are completion of an approved residency program and passing oral and written examinations at the conclusion of the residency. These residency programs are monitored by the individual specialty as well as other credentialing organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American Hospital Association.
The American residency system is the envy of the world. Board certification is an important qualification, credential and emblem that one is considered, in the eyes of his fellow doctors, to be qualified to practice the specialty.
The confusion arises in areas where there is no specific board. Cosmetic surgery is one of those. There is no American Board of Cosmetic Surgery that is within the scope of the American Board of Medical Specialties. That organization regulates the 23 major specialties. In most states, any licensed physician is not restrained from any aspect of medical practice. That may sound surprising, but the reality is that states only license physicians as physicians and not by specialty. It has been stated that “cosmetic surgery can be performed by any licensed physician, from a plastic surgeon to a pediatrician.” The reality is that you won’t find any pediatricians or psychiatrists performing cosmetic surgery because they cannot get privileges to perform them in a properly credentialed hospital or outpatient surgery center.
The medical board of California, which licenses and disciplines doctors, does list each physician’s board certification. That information is given to the board by the physician himself.
Every doctor should be proud of his background, training and credentials. It should not be hard for patients to glean whether or not the specialty in which a doctor is certified is appropriate for their particular needs.
- Robert Kotler, MD, FACS