Surgery is a risky procedure and whenever you are considering any type of surgery, you need to choose the right surgeon. This applies even when going for plastic surgery procedures. You need to check reviews from past clients and compatibility with your insurance plan. But, most importantly, you need to investigate the surgeon’s experience and certifications to ensure that you are getting the right service from a certified surgeon.
Whether the surgeon in question is board-certified or not is also worth investigating. However, most people get confused when it comes to differentiating between a board-certified and a non-board certified surgeon. Below we explain the difference.
A board-certified surgeon has an added credential that is given to a doctor to show that they have achieved the highest level of accreditation within a specific area of medicine. This can either be in orthopedic surgery, cosmetic surgery, etc. However, board certification is voluntary. This is different from medical licensure which is a legal requirement for every doctor to be able to practice medicine.
Board certification symbolizes that a doctor has undergone additional training in an area of specialty and is better qualified to practice within that specialty compared to a non-certified doctor. The details within in board certification vary from one board to another, but some of the top requirements include:
- Graduation from an accredited medical school
- The completion of a postgraduate residency training program (around 5 to 6 years) with experience providing patient care under the supervision of MD supervision and experience in a medical or surgical specialty to gain the necessary experience.
- A valid state medical license for medical practice
- Clearing background checks
- Have passed an oral and written board examination to complete the certification process
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A non-board certified medical professional may be more or less competent. They may not be board certified due to various reasons which include having been turned down for membership or they may not have applied for their certification credentials. In other cases, they have failed the test or not met the minimum requirements. They are also referred to as “diplomats”.
Having known the difference between a board-certified and a non-board-certified surgeon, you also need to know that board certification and medical licensure are not the same. A doctor is legally required to obtain a valid state medical license for them to practice medicine but having a board certification is optional. Also, board certification is granted by a private organization while a medical license is issued by a state medical licensing board. It does not reflect a physician’s specialty training. Thus medical doctors who are licensed are not necessarily members of a board. State medical licensing boards can revoke the licenses of a medical professional due to malpractice, abuse, inadequate recordkeeping, or unprofessional conduct. Specialty boards cannot revoke or suspend a doctor’s license.
As a patient, it’s recommended to choose a surgeon who has a valid, unrestricted medical license. Check the licensure status of the doctor by searching your state’s medical board database. For surgical procedures, it’s important to choose a surgeon who is board-certified and experienced in the right specialty for you and that the procedure will be performed in an accredited surgical center.