I’m Dr. Thomas Sands, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon here in the New Orleans and Metairie area. I wanted to take a minute to educate you on the term “Board Certified”. What does “Board Certified” mean to you as a patient when selecting a physician?
To practice medicine in the United States, doctors must be licensed by the states in which they work. However, just because a physician is licensed, does not mean that he or she is qualified to practice in a specific medical specialty, such as plastic surgery. One of the best ways to know if your doctor has the qualifications to provide care in a specialty or subspecialty is to find out whether he or she is Board Certified and participates in activities to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine and patient care.
As a board certified plastic surgeon, we voluntarily meet additional standards beyond basic licensing. We undergo rigorous training which usually involves 5 years of surgery and an additional 2-3 years within the specialty area of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Board Certification is then earned by passing a written and an oral examination created and administered by the Members of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is just the first step in the career-long learning and assessment process that is required by the American Board of Medical Specialties maintenance of certification. To maintain Board Certification, a doctor must actively keep up to date with the latest advances in his or her specialty and demonstrate best practices for patient safety, communications and ethics. These efforts lead to higher standards for our patients and better care.
One of the best ways to know if your doctor has the necessary qualifications to provide care in a particular specialty is to find out if he or she is Board Certified within the particular area of medicine you, as a patient, are investigating. This means that the physician will be participating in activities to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine and patient care. Bear in mind, not all certification is created equal. Just because a physician credentials say he or she is certified doesn’t mean board certified. Likewise, even though a physicians credentials say he or she is board certified, make sure that the board certification is within the specialty that the physician is practicing. There are 24 different medical specialties and subspecialties that are recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Participation and board certification within the group is commonly signified by a gold star within advertisements.
Do your homework and look for physicians that have this gold star and know that they are trained and committed to higher standards and patient care.