Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

Posted June 08, 2010 in About Dr. Mele, Home, Patient Safety, Plastic Surgery Societies

Dr. Mele is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

Dr. Mele is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

The importance of Board Certification cannot be stressed enough, but what does it really mean, and how do you know if your doctor is certified by a legitimate board?

What is a Legitimate Board?

The oranization that oversees Board Certification in the United States is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Anyone can create a Board, but the ABMS is recognized as the “gold standard” in physician certification. The ABMS oversees 24 approved medical specialty boards, and helps to develop uniform standards by which physicians are evaluated and certified. These 24 core boards are sometimes referred to as the “real” medical boards.

So You Want to be a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon?

If you want to be a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, here is all you need to do:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Complete Medical School (4 years)
  • Obtain Physicians and Surgeons License (more exams)
  • General Surgery Residency (3 to 5 years)
    • 3 years is the minimum and must be completed at the same institution.
    • 5 years you can apply for General Surgery Board Certification (American Board of Surgery)
      • Written Qualifying Exam (after completing an approved General Surgery Residency)
      • Oral Certifying Exam (the year after passing the Qualifying Exam)
  • Plastic Surgery Fellowship (2 to 3 years)
  • Board Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery
    • Written Qualifying Exam (after completing an approved Plastic Surgery Fellowship)
    • Oral Certifying Exam (the year after passing the Qualifying Exam)

How I Became a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Here is how I did it:

  • Bachelor of Science Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California, Davis – Davis, CA
  • Completed Medical School at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine – Sacramento, CA
  • Obtained an unrestricted Physicians and Surgeons License from the Medical Board of California
  • General Surgery Residency (5 years)
    • General Surgery Internship – University of California, Davis Medical Center – Sacramento, CA
    • General Surgery Residency (with Chief Residency) – San Joaquin General Hospital – Stockton, CA
  • Board Certification from the American Board of Surgery
    • Passed the Written Qualifying Exam
    • Passed the Oral Certifying Exam
  • Plastic Surgery Fellowship (3 years)
    • Plastic Surgery Fellowship (with Chief Residency) – Saint Francis Memorial Hospital – San Francisco, CA
  • Board Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery
    • Passed the Written Qualifying Exam
    • Passed the Oral Certifying Exam

Maintenance of Certification

A generation ago, once you were Board Certified, you were Board Certified for life, but this has changed. Since 1995 Board Certification needs to be maintained yearly and renewed every 10 years. Maintenance of Certification is now the norm.

In order to retain certification, each board now has specific ongoing requirements. For the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Maintenance of Certification includes yearly submissions and reviews which include reviews of hospital privileges, case logs, licensing, continuing medical education and peer reviews. Additionally, every ten years another written examination must be passed.

I maintain Board Certification and have recertified with two ABMS boards:

  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • The American Board of Surgery

Why Recertify?

Board Certification is voluntary, expensive and time consuming. So when a Plastic Surgeon is Board Certified, it means they care about their patients and their profession. It demonstrates that they are willing to make the extra effort to prove that they are uniquely qualified to perform plastic surgery.

The goal of Board Certification is to improve patient safety. When you see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, you can be assured that their background has been checked by other Board Certified Plastic Surgeons who also care about their patients and their profession.

Board Certified Means

Board Certified means your Plastic Surgeon has:

  • the proper medical license
  • completed the correct training
  • passed a written qualifying exam
  • passed a review of patient care and surgeries after training
  • passed an oral certifying exam

Board Recertified Means

If your Plastic Surgeon has recertified this means they have:

  • maintained an unrestricted State Medical License
  • maintained active membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgery
  • maintained Hospital Privileges in Plastic Surgery
  • operated only in Accredited Surgical Facilities
  • completed a minimum of 50 hours of Continuing Medical Education a year
  • every three years
    • has all the above corroborated by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
    • completed a tracer procedure
    • completed benchmark reporting
    • completed an action plan
    • completed a review of 150 hours of Continuing Medical Education
    • completed educational activities specific to Plastic Surgery Maintenance of Certification
    • maintained an unrestricted State Medical License
  • every ten years
    • reapplied for Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
    • passed a case load review of all surgeries performed for a 6 month period
    • satisfactorily completed a written cognitive examination
  • and they have the opportunity to start the process over again.

It takes dedication, persistence and effort to maintain Board Certification, and so does being a Plastic Surgeon. You owe it to yourself to do the research and check your plastic surgeon before having any procedure, and the Internet makes it easy. The following links, will make it even easier. Just click on what you want to do:

Check if your doctor is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Check if your doctor is Board Certified by another American Board of Medical Specialties board. You will need to register to use this site, but it is safe, free and fast.
Check if your doctor has an unrestricted California Medical License. Read the disclaimer and click “Continue to Search” at the bottom. If you are not in California, Google your local medical board for a link.