Monday, November 12, 2007

What is Board Certification? Why should you care?

Thoughts on cosmetic surgery by Dr. Robert J. Brueck -

Unfortunately, it is rare that someone these days asks me if I am Board Certified. I got asked that question more frequently 20 years ago. Yet, today we live in a “buyer beware" market.

When I came to Fort Myers 28 years ago, there were four plastic surgeons. Now if you look in the telephone directory, there are maybe 60 or more surgeons. Most are NOT plastic surgeons – they are general surgeons, ophthalmologists, ENT, dermatologists, etc.

In the Yellow Pages, if you want to pay to be listed, they are more than happy to take your money. It matters not to them how qualified a doctor is.

What does it take to be Board Certified?

To be Board Certified in plastic surgery one has to complete four to five years of general surgery training followed by two to three years of training specifically in plastic surgery.

If you trained at an approved program you become “board eligible”.

Many times plastic surgeons will do fellowship training. This is time spent “ultra-specializing” in a particular part of plastic surgery. I did a fellowship in cosmetic surgery since it has always been my first love. Some plastic surgeons will do fellowships in burn therapy or hand surgery.

Written And Oral Exams

Once you have completed your residency and/or fellowship, you first must take an all-day written examination from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. (Yes, you get a lunch break.)

If you successfully complete your written exam then you become eligible for the oral exam. This process usually takes two to three years of private practice. During this time, you have to compile a complete listing of all your cases, which you submit to the Board of Plastic Surgery for its review. These are submitted before your exam and the Board will select certain cases for you to present and/or discuss.

These oral exams are conducted before two other Board Certified plastic surgeons. They will question you on your particular cases or on the whole gamut of plastic surgery. You must take two to three oral exams during the course of the day.

Once all the oral exams have been completed, the Board then goes into seclusion to discuss the results of all the examinees that day and you either pass or fail. If you pass, you are now Board Certified.

Quite an ordeal!

It is certainly more demanding than a weekend course on face lifts or liposuction. That is why, more than ever, you need to be cautious. With the proliferation of Medi-Spas, I am always amused when the doctor gives his or her name followed by the words, “Board Certified Physician.”

Surely, if he or she was Board Certified in plastic surgery, they would say so. Maybe they are Board Certified in podiatry, general surgery, ophthalmology – all important disciplines, but that is not the same as Board Certification in Plastic Surgery. A Board Certified plastic surgeon should be able to discuss all the options available to you as a patient, not just some.

Food for thought as you consider cosmetic surgery and who should perform it for you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew to look for "board certified", but never thought to look for "board certified plastic surgeon". Thank you for clarifying that term.

We can certainly better appreciate the skill of a board certified plastic surgeon now, and feel confident in his ability, knowing that the doctor has successfully passed this very intensive and thorough examination process.

November 13, 2007 at 7:10 AM  

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