What Is a Board Certified Doctor?

Is your physician Board Certified or is he or she only licensed? If you are like most Americans, it’s unlikely that you know the difference between these different designations. Today we will clear up any confusion between these varying titles that a doctor may have so that you may make the best medical decisions for your health.

A Licensed Doctor, a Board Certified Doctor or Both?

In order to practice medicine in the United States, an individual must be licensed by the state or states in which he or she works. Being licensed simply means that the doctor has attended and graduated from medical school and that they have been granted a license. It does not give you any insight as to what the physician may specialize in.

The next title that you may come across is “board eligible.” A doctor who is considered to be “board eligible” has completed his or her residency in a medical specialty or sub-specialty, but has not yet passed the board certification test. This may be because the physician:

a) Has not yet taken the test; or

b) Has failed the test.

It is important that individuals understand that a “board eligible” doctor is not the same as a “Board Certified” doctor. It is quite possible for a physician to continue to advertize his or her self as being “board eligible” in a particular specialty for years and years despite failing the test to become Board Certified.

Doctors who are Board Certified have voluntarily met additional standards that go beyond basic licensing. These physicians are experts in one or more fields. Before a doctor can become Board Certified, they must complete three to five years of full-time experience in an accredited residency training program and pass a written and oral examination.

Maintaining Board Certification as a Physician

A doctor is not given board certification for life. He or she must continually maintain his or her certification by actively keeping up with the latest advancements in his or her specialty. The doctor must also continue to demonstrate test practices in patient safety, patient communication and ethics.

How to Check if You Doctor Is Board Certified

Those seeking a Board Certified doctor can easily do so through the American Board of Medical Specialties website. You also have the option to make a toll-free call to the board at 1-866-ASK-ABMS, and you can request written verification by contacting the Member Board within your doctor’s specialty.

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