What Does ‘Board-Certified’ Mean?

Two doctors with a clipboard. (MODELS)

In the medical profession, the term ‘board-certified’ carries significant weight. It’s a distinction that sets some providers apart from others by signaling a higher level of expertise and qualification. But what does board-certified mean in the context of plastic surgery, and why does it matter? This post will answer those questions and more.

Are All Plastic Surgeons Board Certified?

Not all plastic surgeons are board-certified, but it’s a distinction that many aspire to achieve. Board certification is a voluntary process that demonstrates a surgeon’s experience, expertise, and commitment to their field.

What Are the Requirements for Board Certification?

To become board certified, a plastic surgeon must undergo rigorous training and meet specific criteria established by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) in the United States. The ABPS is the leading authority in certifying plastic surgeons, and their standards are recognized as some of the most stringent in the world. These include:

  • Complete at least 6 years of surgical training following medical school with a minimum of 3 years of plastic surgery residency training
  • Pass comprehensive oral and written exams
  • Graduate from an accredited medical school

The ABPS is the only plastic surgery certifying board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which has approved medical specialty boards since 1934. There is no ABMS-recognized certifying board with “cosmetic surgery” in its name.

Can a Doctor Practice Without Board Certification?

Yes, doctors can legally practice cosmetic plastic surgery without board certification. However, board certification serves as a mark of excellence that greatly enhances the likelihood of a safe, successful, and, ultimately, satisfying surgical outcome.

When researching plastic surgeons, you may come across a similar term: board eligible. Learn more about this designation below.

What Does ‘Board-Eligible’ Mean?

Board-eligible plastic surgeons have completed their formal training in plastic surgery but have not yet taken or passed their board certification examinations. After completing their residency and fellowship training, surgeons may practice under this board-eligible status. However, it is important to note that board eligibility is not the same as being board-certified.

Board Eligible vs. Board Certified

The key difference between a board-eligible plastic surgeon and a board-certified plastic surgeon lies in their certification status. Board-certified surgeons have successfully passed the rigorous written and oral exams set by the ABPS to prove their expertise and competence in their specialty.

On the other hand, board-eligible surgeons are in the process of pursuing certification and have not yet undergone these exams or completed the certification process.

How To Check If a Plastic Surgeon Is Board Certified

Verifying a surgeon’s board certification is a crucial step when choosing a plastic surgeon. You can easily confirm their certification by visiting the official website of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and using their “Find a Surgeon” tool. This online directory allows you to search for board-certified plastic surgeons in your area.

Some professional societies, such as The Aesthetic Society or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, restrict membership to board-certified plastic surgeons and have similar look-up tools to verify their members’ credentials.

Conclusion: How Important Is Board Certification for Doctors?

Board certification is highly important for doctors, especially in specialized fields like plastic surgery. It signifies a commitment to continuous learning and the highest standards of patient care. Board-certified plastic surgeons have demonstrated their proficiency in surgical techniques and patient safety, and are held to a strict code of ethics.

In addition to board certification, there are a number of other factors you should keep in mind before choosing a plastic surgeon. Learn more in our related blog post.

Ready to take the next step toward your aesthetic goals? We invite you to request a consultation or call us at (718) 720-9400 to get started on your journey to a more vibrant, confident you.

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