Board certification in & of itself has nothing to do with being up todate or continuing medical education. In order to qualify as a board that can award certificates a group (Board of Dermatology, Surgery,Neurosurgery, etc.) must be listed with the American Board of Medical Specialities(ABMS). There are no recognized boards of specific procedures (such as liposuction or hairgrafting, etc.). Certificates of added qualification are awarded by some boards to those physicians who have additional fellowship training in subspecialty areas such as Hand Surgery. In order for new boards or certificates of added qualification to be allowed in the system members of ABMS must vote on the matter.
The requirements or prerequisites for board examination vary from board to board. They include number of years of training, number & type of procedures performed, etc.. Some require passing a written examination before undertaking an oral examination. Some only require a written examination. Others require passage of a certain amount of time before examinations can be taken. Board Certificates, i.e. board certification, are given after the examinations are passed. Depending on the board recertification exams (usually written) are required every ten years or so. Although passage of board examinations are a form of continuing medical education (CME) one does not require CME credits to take the exam.CME credits are also awarded for attending physician educational symposia, writing scientific papers, lecturing, etc.. In order to maintain a medical license in any given state or membership in a medical or specialty society a certain number of CME credits are required per year. One must have a valid medical license in order to sit for a board examination.Thus, the mere presence or absence of board certification does not equate with the abilities of a given physician. It depends on whether or not they took the exam, if they failed or passed, if they do not qualify to take the exam, if they have been in practice a sufficient length of time to take the exam, etc..
By using the word “board” on a certificate that is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties the consumer is confused as to what board certified means. You cannot have a board in one procedure & you cannot have a board without a residency training program. Why don’t we give out board certificates in liposuction, appendectomies, etc.? The reason is obvious. To make up for this the ABMS has allowed actual boards to give out certificates of added qualifications. These certificates are overseen by one or more boards. For example the certificate of added qualifications in hand surgery are overseen by the boards of Plastic, General & Orthopedic Surgery. This process favors consumer safety over the benefit of any individual or group. In the state of California doctors can be sactioned for stating they are board certified in a specialty when they are not or if they advertise certification in unrecognized boards.