BEST INTENTIONS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF BOARD CERTIFICATION

    Fall 2010- ACP Messenger, published by the American College of Prosthodontists

    New Prosthodontic graduates often ask, “Why should I take the Boards?”

    What is board certification?

    A board certified prosthodontist has successfully passed a rigorous examination conducted by the American Board of Prosthodontics. He or she is subjected to re-certification every eight years to insure that he or she is current in practices that affect the specialty.

    The American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP/Board) certification should be viewed as the final validation in the educational progression of your residency program. The board examination is an external reaffirmation of what the program director hoped was taught and what the candidate hoped was learned.

    The New York Times recently reported on a study published in Health Affairs, By Norcini et al, evaluating the quality of care provided by graduates of internal medical schools. An interesting finding was that the lessening of patient mortality rates correlated directly with being “Board Certified” than where the individual trained.

    Only 1of 3 educationally trained Prosthodontists is Board Certified compared to 9 out of 10 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical colleagues. Diplomate status is the “gold standard” for professional competency within medicine and dentistry and is recognized by the general public when they seek out “Board Certified” specialists for their care.

    Traditionally, board certification has been a prerequisite for obtaining staff privileges in hospitals and clinics. While this may not impact the private practitioner, anyone considering an institutional appointment should be aware that this prerequisite exists in most institutions. In the military services, a specialist receives increased salary (called “board-certified pay”) when board certification has been achieved. This financial incentive correlates with the high rate of board certification seen in the armed services. Similarly, board certification is used as a factor in promotion, higher salary and tenure reviews by many professional schools.

    For the private practice prosthodontist, the incentive to become board-certified is a more personal decision. For many, the value is very real. Currently, of the 1 in 3 prosthodontists that are board-certified, 45% are in private practice, and the other 55% are in the military and education. The pride of accomplishment and the ability to call oneself a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP) and a Fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) is incentive enough for many. However, the benefits go beyond personal accomplishment.

    The consumer public is becoming more aware of the importance of board certification, and the frequency of inquiries regarding certification in prosthodontics has increased dramatically over the past decade. Potential patients contact the ABP regularly to determine whether the prosthodontist they are considering as their care provider is board-certified. Patients also seek board-certified prosthodontists in their geographic region and are often willing to travel substantial distances to be seen by a Diplomate.