On National Doctor’s Day, Give Your Doctor a “Check-Up”

On March 24, 2022

Susan Morris
AVP, Communications
(312) 436-2624

ABMS Offers Patients Helpful Guidance on Quality Care, Licensing, and Board Certification

CHICAGO – March 24, 2022—On March 30, “National Doctors’ Day,” the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is encouraging patients to give their doctor a “check-up” to make sure they continue to be the right doctor for them and their loved ones.

“Choosing an appropriate physician for yourself and your family is an important decision,” noted Greg Ogrinc, MD, MS, ABMS Senior Vice President of Certification Standards and Programs. “The good news is that there are free tools you can use to find the right professional for you and your family.”

Check-Up Questions

  1. Does your doctor make you feel respected and listened to? Do you feel that you are getting the care you need? If not, talk to your doctor and their staff so that they can make improvements. If your needs are still not being met, choose another physician that may be a better fit.
  2. Is your doctor licensed to practice in your state? Has a state medical board disciplined your doctor? To find out, look up your doctor on the Federation of State Medical Boards’ free website, www.docinfo.org, the nation’s most comprehensive database of medical licensure and disciplinary actions.
  3. Is your doctor board certified in their specialty by an American Board of Medical Specialties Member Board? This indicates that they are skilled and knowledgeable, an expert in their specialty, and meet a higher standard that was developed by their peers. Do a check-up on your doctor on the American Board of Medical Specialties’ free website at www.CertificationMatters.org.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be confusion about the difference between physician licensing and board certification,” said Dr. Ogrinc. “While both are important markers, it is helpful to note that state licensing is mandatory, while board certification is a voluntary step physicians take to demonstrate their commitment to providing the highest quality of patient care. In fact, several studies show that board certified physicians provide a higher quality of care and tend to have fewer disciplinary actions than those who are not board certified.”

What is the difference between licensing and board certification?

All physicians must have a current state medical license to practice medicine in the United States. Licensing means that the physician has met the core standards needed to provide safe and effective patient care. To obtain a medical license, individuals must graduate medical school, receive postgraduate training, and pass a national medical licensing examination.

After earning their medical license, most doctors in the United States choose a specialty in which to practice, such as pediatrics or internal medicine. Becoming board certified by one of the 24 ABMS Member Boards demonstrates that a physician has gone above and beyond basic medical training to become an expert in that specialty. Board certification requires extra training that can take anywhere from three to seven years. Then, the physician must pass a rigorous exam given by an ABMS board. The fact that most doctors in the United States have chosen to become board certified speaks to its significance.

“ABMS board certification represents a physician’s training and their continued commitment to the specialized knowledge and skills in a particular area of medicine,” noted Dr. Ogrinc. “It represents their lifelong commitment to staying current with specialty knowledge, excellence in professionalism, and engaging in systematic efforts to improve the system in which they work.”

About ABMS

Established in 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is responsible for the creation of standards overseeing physician certification in the United States. Dedicated to improving the quality of care to the patients, families and communities they serve, the 24 ABMS Member Boards develop educational and professional standards and programs of assessment to certify physicians and medical specialists. More than 940,000 physicians and medical specialists are certified by one or more of the ABMS Member Boards in one or more of 40 specialties and 88 subspecialties. For more information about ABMS, visit abms.org or call (312) 436-2600.

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