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Importance of Re-certification Exam

Hooray!! I passed my re-certification exam!!

I shared this news with my staff a few days ago, they yawned with excitement. I guess I should not be surprised by their reaction or by me being so excited.

As orthopedic surgeons (physicians in general), we are expected to stay up to date with the latest medical disease diagnostics and treatments. Each specialty of medicine has a Board that oversees the training programs and the continuing education for the members of that specialty. For orthopedic surgery the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons (ABOS) performs this service for the members of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Soo… I have been a member of AAOS since 1995 and after two years in practice in Lake Charles I was eligible to take the initial certification examination in 1997. I passed that test…whew!!! It was the hardest. After I passed a written test, I flew to Chicago to sit for an oral exam, very intimidating and nerve-racking. The pass rate is about 90%.

We are required to do a yearly study and take self-scored examinations to maintain our certification. Every ten years we are required to take a written examination which is scored pass or fail. I passed this in 2007 which re-certified me for an additional ten years (the pass rate is about 95%). In 2010 I qualified for and passed a special exam to obtain a Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in the subspecialty of sports medicine. The Board required me to submit a list of all the sports cases I performed in the last two years for review to qualify for the exam and then pass a written test.

So here I am in 2016. The ABOS allowed me to take the exam a year early. I was eligible to take a combined orthopedic and sports medicine test. Since passing this latest test I do not have to take a written exam until 2027.

So the take home message is that having a board-certified physician means that a third party, the Board, has certified that the doctor has met the qualifications and maintained their knowledge and skill set to continue to provide a good standard of care.

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