Posted on November 10, 2010

If you need surgery for an injury or condition, first do some investigating to make sure you’re in the best possible hands. Ask if the doctor is “board certified” and find out, which board. Then verify that it’s recommended by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).  Certification by an ABMS Member Board involves a rigorous process of testing and peer evaluation that is designed and administered by specialists in the specific area of medicine. Members are leaders in their field because they voluntarily participate in lifelong learning to keep their skills and knowledge current. They demonstrate their commitment to quality clinical outcomes, patient safety and a responsive, patient-centered practice through participation in a continuous Maintenance of Certification program. There are boards that are invented to sound prestigious. If a doctor isn’t certified by a board that’s recognized by the ABMS, find another physician.

If your doctor purports to be an orthopedic specialist, he or she ought to be a member of The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. That’s the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify orthopedic surgery.  Within that field, physicians may be further specialized in one area of the body or another, like shoulder, hand and wrist or foot and ankle; or in a type of procedure like arthroscopy or joint replacement.  This specialization is what’s meant by fellowship training. If your doctor says he or she is fellowship trained, ask what the training was in and where he or she did their training. Fellowship training indicates that once a fully credentialed physician, the doctor has received additional training in a particular discipline.  While this certification doesn’t guarantee that he’s the best physician, it does guarantee an extra level of training and experience.  During Fellowship training, surgeons often perform hundreds of procedures to hone their skills.