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What It Takes to Become a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

If you’re looking for the most qualified plastic surgeons in the La Jolla area, you should start by choosing one who is board-certified in plastic surgery. The certification process exists in order to assure patients that their surgeon has the skills and expertise necessary to provide the highest quality care available within the specialty. Note that nowhere near all doctors offering cosmetic surgery procedures have earned board certification in plastic surgery. In addition, it is important to realize that board certification in plastic surgery is an entirely different credential that does not require the advanced training in plastic surgery techniques that board-certified plastic surgeons have completed.

What Is Board Certification?

Becoming board certified is a step beyond standard licensure. While licensure indicates that a doctor has received his or her medical license, by itself it offers no assurance as to a specialty or more specific experience. Certification from The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) requires the following:

  • Graduation from an accredited medical school
  • Five years of general surgery residency training in an accredited program
  • Two years specifically as a plastic surgery resident

After these requirements are fulfilled, the doctor will also have to pass rigorous oral and written exams in order to become certified. Since 1995, this board certification has been limited to a 10-year validation period. During this time, doctors must show continuing education within their specialty and undergo reviews and evaluations of their practice in order to maintain board certification.

The Certification Board

The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of only 24 boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABPS is the only board that offers plastic surgery certification for the whole body, including head, neck, trunk and extremities. Its mission statement is to provide high standards for education, exams and certification of plastic surgeons, and promote safer, more ethical plastic surgery by doing so.

Specialization Approval

To become certified as a specialist by one of the 24 boards under The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) carries certain completion requirements. Although these vary by specialty, they all include:

  • Successful completion of education which leads to medical licensure, either M.D. or D.O.
  • Successful completion of any specialist training required by an accredited residency program
  • Assessments, exams or other documentation from a supervisor within the residency program
  • Holding an unrestricted license to practice is a prerequisite to taking the certification exam
  • Successful passing of specialty board examinations

Once candidates have passed their specialty board exams and fulfilled any other requirements mandated by their specialty board, they receive Diplomate status and specialist certification. This process is also followed for those doctors who wish to become subspecialists.

Choosing the Best

There are many choices in San Diego for a plastic surgeon, and it can be overwhelming deciding which one to entrust with your care. Looking specifically for board certification is one way patients can protect themselves and ensure that the doctor they are considering has specialized training and experience in plastic surgery techniques. Doctors who have achieved this certification have gone above and beyond within their specialty, and have additionally ensured ongoing education and training throughout the length of their certification.

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