Board certification in plastic surgery is not easy. To become Board certified a surgeon initially has to pass a written examination. If he (she) passes the written examination he is then asked to take an oral exam. Each of these exams typically has a failure rate of about 20%. Put another way, for each 100 surgeons going through the process, only 64 are successful the first time around. This failure rate is the highest among all the surgical specialties’ certification processes, indicating that certification in plastic surgery may be the most difficult of all Boards.
After becoming certified, the plastic surgeon then has to submit information to the American Board of Plastic Surgery every two or three years indicating what scientific meetings he (or she) has attended, what types of cases he has performed, and even examples of the advertising he does. This year (2013), for instance, I had to submit a list of every case I performed from January 1st through June 30th to the Board (names of patients were removed). The information included how long each case took to perform, what hospital or surgery center was used, what complications (if any) took place, and the number codes used for each diagnosis and each procedure. That’s pretty detailed information that other Boards often do not require.
It’s a lot of work to obtain all the information requested by our Board. I’m proud of our Board, however, because they really do have our patients’ best interests in mind. The American Board of Plastic Surgery wants to make sure that its members are practicing safe surgery, obtaining excellent outcomes, and are doing this in an ethical way. I have been Board Certified since 1996 and have never failed a Board exam. Maintaining certification in plastic surgery indicates a high level of commitment to our specialty, and ultimately to our patients. Make sure you visit with a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Certification matters.