Our eye doctors are "board certified." What does board certified mean and is it necessary?
Basically, "board certified" insures that your doctor has passed additional testing to prove competency in their field.
Board certification is an extra-step usually taken after completion of optometry school or after ophthalmology residency is completed. Board certification now involves completion and passing of a comprehensive examination to certify that the eye doctor is qualified and knowledgeable in optometry or ophthalmology.
Principally because of sub-specialization, board certification is treated differently in ophthalmology and optometry. Many ophthalmologists (completed medical school) sub-specialize and become board certified, whereas sub-specialization is not recognized in the area of optometry, hence, few become board certified.
Most of this article pertains to board certification in ophthalmology.
American Board of Ophthalmology
There are 24 member-boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Board of Ophthalmology is the board related to ophthalmologists and, incidentally, is the oldest medical specialty certifying board. All ophthalmologists, regardless of sub-specialty, must pass a 150 question recertification exam.
Recertification is now required every 10 years for the American Board of Ophthalmology and American Board of Optometry. Previous to 1990, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) did not require recertification.
Is Board Certification Necessary?
While board certification is not necessary to obtain a state license to practice your specialty, most hospitals and insurance companies do require board certification for a doctor to have hospital privileges (i.e. perform surgery, examinations and consultations in the hospital setting) and participate on various health insurance panels (i.e. have the ability to accept patients with insurance).
In these modern times, it would be very difficult to practice without access to a hospital and to see patients without insurance.
Sub-specialization in Medicine
As medical knowledge and technology has advanced, it became apparent that one single doctor could not keep up with all areas of medicine. Hence, subspecialties were created.
The American Board of Ophthalmology has been in existence for over 100 years being created in 1916. At present, all ophthalmologists essentially take the same core examination.
Subspecialties in Ophthalmology:
- Cataract and Refractive Surgery
- Cornea and External Diseases
- Neuro ophthalmology
- Ocular Oncology
- Oculoplastics and Orbit Surgery
- Ophthalmic Pathology
As medical knowledge and technology has advanced, it became apparent that not one single individual could keep up with the all the developments across a single speciality. Subspecialties allow our doctor to focus on a single sub-niche of interest and practice.
As of now, however, regardless of subspecialty, we all take the same exam covering the entire general field of ophthalmology. There are no subspecialty boards, but perhaps there will be in the near future.
We look forward to seeing you. If you have questions or want to make an appointment, please give us a call.