Once upon a time, Board Certification was a lifetime distinction, but this is no longer true. Now, Board Certification requires maintenance of certification. Every year, the American Board of Plastic Surgery requires Board Certified Plastic Surgeons to submit to a review of their practice.
Board Certified for Life
For the American Board of Plastic Surgery, diplomates certified prior to 1995 where given certificates without an expiration date. After finishing an accredited Plastic Surgery training program, all one had to do was pass a written qualifying examination and an oral certification examination and you were Board Certified, for life. No further exams, no further evaluations and no further review was required.
Recertification – the First Step
The first step toward assuring the public that Board Certified Plastic Surgeons are also current with the latest techniques in surgery and patient safety was recertification. Every 10 years, passing a written examination was required to remain Board Certified. If you could not pass, you could no longer claim to be Board Certified. Lifetime certificate holders, however, are not required to participate to remain Board Certified.
Maintenance of Certification
The latest incarnation of Board Certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery requires a yearly activity to remain Board Certified. Again, Plastic Surgeons certified before 1995 are still not required to participate in order to retain their Board Certified title.
Some of the yearly tasks are simple, like paying the ever increasing fees; however, this is not nearly enough. Many of the tasks are more than menial and are listed below:
- Verification of unrestricted state medical license
- Verification of hospital privileges
- Verification of accreditation of non-hospital based freestanding outpatient surgery centers
- Submission of advertising material
- Active membership in one of the Board’s sponsoring organizations (ASPS or ASAPS)
- Peer review
- Verification of 150 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits every three years
- Completion of additional MOC-approved educational activities
- Completion of one Practice Assessment Module
- Review of Benchmarking Report for comparison of data to peers
- Completion of Action Plan for Improvement
- Case Collection of de-identified data from all cases over a six-month period
- Successfully completing the MOC in Plastic Surgery Recertification Examination every 10 years
All This for a Little Piece of Paper
After completing all these tasks, here what I received…
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
The American Board of Plastic Surgery program requirements are aligned with the four basic components approved by all 24 Member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABMS represents the gold standard of Medical Boards and for Board Certification. There are more than 24 “boards” out there, but these 24 represent the core of medicine and are the “real” Medical Boards. Beware of sound-a-like boards. Some are valid adjuncts to the core, but none are a substitute for the real boards.
Why Look for Board Certification?
The idea behind Board Certification is to provide a benchmark for the public for a doctor’s training and qualifications. Below are links with which you can check me out, or check out any other Board Certified Doctor.
Maintenance of Certification takes dedication and persistence. You owe it to yourself to check your plastic surgeon before having any procedure. Just click on what you want to do:
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 state’s medical board for a link.