Plastic Surgery School Listings Home            

   Plastic Surgery Schools Feedback Feedback

Plastic Surgery Schools Feedback
Site Search

Plastic Surgery Listings
Plastic Surgery Careers
Plastic Surgery Schools FAQs
Anatomy Top Schools/School Rankings

FAQs | Plastic Surgery Procedure Specific Questions

How does a doctor become Board Certified?

A. Why should I choose a doctor who is Board Certified by ABPS?

By choosing a plastic surgeon who is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc., you can be assured that the doctor has graduated from an accredited medical school and has completed at least five years of additional training as a resident surgeon in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This includes a minimum of five years of residency training in all areas of surgery, including at least two years devoted entirely to plastic surgery. Certification is a voluntary process a surgeon seeks after this training. To become certified, the doctor then must pass comprehensive written and oral exams.

We suggest you visit the link on our home page to American Board of Medical Specialties website ( and click on “Is Your Doctor Board Certified” to check whether a doctor is board certified by any of the 24 ABMS Boards.


Why is The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. different from other plastic surgery (or cosmetic surgery) Boards?

A. ABPS is one of the 24 specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). It is the only ABMS board which certifies in the full spectrum of the specialty of plastic surgery of the entire body. That is, plastic and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck, trunk and extremities.

What is the difference between membership in a society, association, academy and accreditation/certification?

A. The ABPS Diplomate is a certified physician who has met the requirements outlined above. The mission of The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. is to promote safe, ethical, efficacious plastic surgery to the public by maintaining high standards for the education, examination, certification and maintenance of certification of plastic surgeons as specialists and subspecialties.

Societies are professional membership associations. The specific society, association or academy should be contacted for specific membership requirements and mission.


Define licensure, certification and accreditation.

A. Licensure is designed as minimum standard necessary to practice medicine. It is a public function, administered by the states. The standards are established through a public process and all actions taken – both in granting a license and in restricting or withdrawing a license – are matters of public record. Licensure is not specialty specific and permits an individual to provide to the public any medical or surgical service he/she desires.

Certification by a specialty Board attests to 1) completion of a prescribed set of education and training requirements in a specialty of medicine beyond the minimum requirements for licensure, and 2) passage of examinations that test the fund of knowledge in that specialty. All specialties now also require maintenance of certification (MOC), which requires completion of specified continuing education. Assessment of performance in practice and successful completion of a further examination testing the fund of knowledge in that specialty are also required for MOC. Many health care organizations and health plans now require certification in order to provide services in the relevant specialty area. Board-certified physicians govern specialty Boards in that specialty.

Accreditation is awarded to licensed physicians who have conducted their professional activities in accordance with standards set to define quality in professional practice. These standards include ethical behavior; absence of disciplinary actions by hospitals, licensing agencies, or financing programs; participation in peer review; participation in clinical self-assessment; operation of a safe, patient-centered practice that meets criteria for quality; and participation in measurement of clinical performance and patient care results, including patient satisfaction. Accreditation is not specialty specific. Detailed reports on accreditation are provided to health care organizations and health plans for their use in evaluating physicians. These reports include information on the physician’s license status and specialty board certification. The American Medical Accreditation Program is governed by a 17 member Board that includes a majority of physicians, as well as representation from consumers, employers, HCFA, managed care plans, voluntary health organizations and others.


What is the Meaning of Board Certification?


I. An Overview of Certification.

The certification process is designed to assure the public that a certified medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and an evaluation, including an examination process designed to assess the knowledge, experience and skills requisite to the provision of high quality patient care in that specialty.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is the umbrella organization for 24 approved specialty certifying boards. To be certified as a specialist by one of these recognized boards, a physician must complete certain requirements. The requirements for each specialty are determined by the specialty board, but the requirements generally include:

  1. Completion of a course of study leading to the M.D. or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree from a recognized school of medicine or school of osteopathy.
  2. Completion of required training in an accredited residency program designed to train specialists in the discipline.
  3. Many specialty boards require assessments and documentation of individual performance from the residency training director, or from the chief of service in the hospital where the specialist has practiced.
  4. All ABMS Member Boards require that a person seeking certification have an unrestricted license to practice medicine in order to take the certification examination.
  5. Each candidate for certification must pass examinations given by the specialty board. Candidates who have passed the exams and other requirements are then given the status of “Diplomate” and are certified as specialists. A similar process is followed for specialists who want to become subspecialists.

II. Time Limits on Certification

Certification is an indication that the specialists has completed an approved medical education program and an evaluation, including an examination designed to assess the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to provide high quality care in that specialty at the time the certificate is awarded.

When the process of certification began, diplomates were awarded certificates that were not time-limited, and therefore did not have to be renewed. In recognition of the pace of change in medical knowledge, certificates awarded by the ABPS since 1995 are time-limited, and are valid for ten years. During this 10-year period, the diplomate must demonstrate maintenance of certification through a process of continuing education in the specialty, demonstration of professional credentials such as hospital privileges, review and evaluation of practice performance and further examination. Diplomates whose certificates are not time-limited are encouraged to electively participate in the MOC-PS program.

Certification indicates that the specialty board determined, based on the criteria then in effect, that the diplomate possessed the education, training, experience and knowledge required to be a specialist at the time the certificate was awarded. To give continuity to this process, the Maintenance of Certification Program (MOC-PS) is designed to assist diplomates to maintain their knowledge and skills through continuing education and documented experience during the period between examinations.

III. The Limits of Certification

Many qualities are necessary to be a competent physician, and many of these qualities cannot be quantified or measured. Thus Board Certification is not a warranty that a physician is “competent.”

Additionally, each specialty board seeks to determine whether its diplomates possess the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to act as specialists within its own specialty. Many physicians are capable of treating conditions and performing procedures that are not within the scope of the specialty in which they are certified. However, ABMS Member Boards do not make any assumptions of whether a physician has the knowledge, experience and skills needed for conditions and perform procedures that are not within the scope for the board which offers certification in the field. For a description of the types of conditions that fall within each specialty, see the “Guide to Physician Specialties” from the ABMS or visit the website of the Board in question.

For further information concerning the requirements for certification, recertification and maintenance of certification for a particular specialty, you should check with the specific ABMS Member Board or check the website of the Member Board. A link to the website of each ABMS Member Boards can be found at If you need more information concerning the status of a physician certification, please contact the Member Board of the physician specialty.

Our Network Of Sites:
Apply 4               |  |  |
Anatomy                 | Anesthesiology  | Architecture | Audiology
Cardiology            | Computer Science | Computer Science | Dermatology
Epidemiology          | Gastroenterology  | Hematology     | Immunology
IT                | Kinesiology  | Language  | Music
Nephrology             | Neurology  | Neurosurgery | Obstetrics
Oncology    | Ophthalmology | Orthopedics       | Osteopathy
Otolaryngology | Pathology  | Pediatrics   | Physical Therapy
Plastic Surgery | Podiatry   | Psychiatry   | Pulmonary 
Radiology | Sports Medicine | Surgery  | Toxicology
US Law | US Med | US Dental

Copyright © 2000-2011 Plastic Surgery Schools, All Right Reserved. | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer