Medical and Specialty Boards
Cosmetic Surgery Consultants
Medical and Specialty Boards
One of the easiest ways to get a professional referral
to a cosmetic surgeon is to ask your personal doctors
whom they recommend. This is not a guarantee of a good
result, but a referral from another doctor does speak
well to that doctor's ethics and standing in the medical
In addition to inquiring with your primary care provider,
gynecologist, or other doctor, numerous professional
organizations will be more than happy to help you locate
physicians in your area with experience in your desired
area of improvement. Some of these are general medical
organizations such as state licensing boards and the
They can help you verify that a doctor is approved
to practice medicine nationally, and licensed in a specific
state. Medical practitioners must have a current medical
license for each state in which they practice; however
actual active membership in the AMA is voluntary.
Among specialty organizations, seemingly countless
academies, boards, and societies exist to promote their
members. Board certification or society membership proves
that a doctor has met the requirements of that organization,
but it does not guarantee that his or her results are
superior, that he or she has kept abreast of recent
advances in the field, or that he or she is desirable,
ethical, competent, or caring.
There is a lot of overlap within the three areas of
academies, societies, and boards, and many doctors belong
to multiple organizations and have multiple board certifications.
To help clarify, here are some very broad definitions.
Keep in mind that there are many exceptions to these
An "academy" primarily exists as a political
entity to ensure that legislation protects the interests
of its constituents and their patients. A "society"
is typically a group with an interest in a particular
subspecialty and advancement of that specialty. A "board"
is primarily a certifying organization that verifies
successful completion of an approved training program,
active medical practice for a certain number of years
(usually 2 to 5), and successful completion of oral
and written examinations.
Almost all doctors do obtain board certification within
several years after completing the residency. The American
Board of Medical Specialties is an association of
24 medical specialty boards, including plastic surgery,
otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), ophthalmology
(eye), and dermatology, among other disciplines.
The board of Cosmetic Surgery is an independent entity,
which is currently undergoing a review process by the
ABMS to become an associated medical subspecialty.
If your cosmetic surgeon is board certified, be sure
to ask in what field your doctor is certified to be
certain that he or she is boarded in a field related
to your area of interest.
While most doctors do have board certification in some
discipline, society membership further substantiates
that doctor's experience and training. In order to become
a member of a professional society, the doctor must
document recent completion of a certain number of qualifying
cases (usually 50 or 100), sometimes have completed
an approved fellowship, and have been recommended by
2 or 3 current members of the society.
Of course, board certification and society membership
in a related field are always good signs, remember...,
the most important factor is the quality and quantity
of recent experience in the procedure or area in which
you are interested.
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