On my doctor’s Web page, her list of credentials includes the fact that she is board certified. What does board certification mean?
You’re asking an important question. Over the years, board certification has become an increasingly important and expected credential.
How does a doctor become board certified?
All doctors must graduate from medical school and complete the requirements for licensure, which vary by state and often include an examination and an internship or other graduate medical education. Then, doctors who choose to specialize in one area of medicine, such as pediatrics, family medicine or orthopaedic surgery, complete a residency that ranges from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.
During or after completing a residency, a doctor may choose to take a comprehensive exam to become certified by the medical board that oversees their specialty. For example, my own board certification in Emergency Medicine comes from the American Board of Emergency Medicine.
Some specialty boards require oral as well as written examinations, and surgical boards often require case reviews. The timeline for completing the certification process varies by specialty.
Once passing this rigorous examination process, a doctor becomes board certified. Most medical boards require doctors to maintain certification by continuing medical education and periodically becoming recertified by passing additional examinations.
Why is it important for a doctor to be board certified?
For a doctor to become board certified, he or she must demonstrate thorough knowledge of all aspects of their specialty. The certifying board stands behind the doctor as having achieved the highest level of skill in that specialty. Board certification indicates that a doctor has made a commitment to meeting the highest standards in their field and maintaining those standards.
For most of us, board certification represents the achievement of a goal; the culmination of all our years of training. It marks us as the specialist we set out to become.
The Portage Health medical staff voted in 2004 to require all doctors joining our medical staff after that date to be board certified within five years after completing their residency. Currently, 87 percent of Portage Health’s physicians are board certified.
How can I find out if my doctor is board certified?
You can ask your doctor or the administration of the healthcare organization where they work. At Portage Health, we include our doctors’ board certifications on our Web site.
Thank you for your excellent question!