By Marta J. Petersen, MD*
“Board Certified” is an important designation for dermatologists, patients, healthcare systems and payors.
Granted, patients and the general public may not fully understand the difference between being “licensed” and being “board certified.” But we dermatologists know that our certification reflects the high standards of knowledge and expertise we acquired in our residencies and apply in our practices.
The American Board of Dermatology (ABD) wants to help our diplomates educate patients and the public about our specialized training in skin disease, and why that training is important for their health.
We have new information on our website explaining what a dermatologist is, how we are trained, and what it means to become board certified in our field. We explain the difference between having a license and being certified. Most importantly, we explain the advantage of choosing a board-certified dermatologist for diagnosing and treating skin disease. We clarify how our training has prepared us to perform dermatologic procedures and interpret skin pathology in a way that physicians in other specialties and allied health professionals are not trained to do.
In addition, we recently added a “Is My Dermatologist Certified?” feature to our website. Located at the top of the ABD website homepage, this new feature allows patients and others to enter your name to confirm your certification status.
Soon we plan to upgrade this feature to allow you to populate your profile with your clinical address, website link, and other information about your practice. We welcome your ideas about what else you would like to include in this feature.
Your patients don’t have to go to our website to get information. We have created a flyer that you can print out and give to patients, or leave a copy in your waiting room or office.
We now also have a tool where you can create your own Cert Mark, with no wait. This personalized ABD Certification Mark can be used on your website, email signature, social media posts, business cards or anywhere else you promote your practice. Just log onto your profile and click on “My Cert Mark” in the blue box.
A point of information for those with time-limited certificates -- the next time you receive an engraved certificate from the ABD, it will not include an end date. This change reflects your ongoing participation in continuing certification and lifelong learning. You will remain certified for as long as you are participating in continuing certification. This means you won’t have to worry about displaying an expired certificate while you wait for a new one, and you won’t have to “change out” your certificate that likely is framed and hanging on your office wall.
If you need a copy of your certificate before the end of your cycle, you can also print your own from your portfolio on ABD.org. Just log onto your profile and click “My Certificate” in the blue box. Follow the instructions to download and print your certificate. The copy will not be embossed like the original certificate, but it should meet most of your needs.
Finally, if you believe someone is wrongfully attesting to patients and the public that they are board-certified in dermatology, please let us know and we will follow up.
We would very much like to hear from you about other ways the ABD can help you show your pride in your specialty and your certification. If you have ideas, please let us know at Feedback@ABDerm.org.
*Marta Petersen, MD, is the ABD Associate Executive Director for Candidate, Program, and Diplomate Relations. She is a professor of dermatology and vice chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, where she was also residency director for 20 years. She specializes in complex medical dermatology, and loves the fact that she continues to see new things in clinic after 35 years in practice!