Here on the basics in terms of education in becoming a board certified plastic surgeon:

4 years of undergraduate education with a bachelors degree in science or the arts– this includes the basic premed requirements. The premed requirements usually requires biology, physics, calculus, etc. It is important to see what the medical school requires for the prerequisite education to enter medical school.

4 years of medical school. The first two years will be in the basic sciences and pathophysiology. The last two years are clinical, requiring the student to observe and start taking part in patient care. Usually in the third year, the student decides on his or her specialty. It is at this time, that it is important to obtain preceptorships and mentor ships with specific physicians in the field of plastic surgery. By the end of the third year and in the beginning of fourth-year applications will be due for plastic surgery residency positions.

6 years of plastic and reconstructive surgery training. There are between 40 to 60 positions in plastic surgery training every year. This is for the “combined or integrated program,” where a medical student will enter into a training program with the end goal of becoming a trained plastic surgeon. This is considered a newer or more modern pathway for training. The classic pathway required formal training in general surgery (5 years), then applying again during general surgery residency for a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery. (2-3 years) During training, the first year is considered the internship year where one rotates through multiple core surgical rotations such as vascular surgery, general surgery, transplant surgery etc. In the second and third years, there is increased responsibility and expectation of the resident to take on more patient care and increased operating exposure. Usually in the final three years, the resident will begin working directly with their attending plastic surgeons to learn specifically the operations and thought process. Near the final year in plastic surgery training, one may apply for further training in fellowships in hand and microsurgery, craniofacial surgery, and cosmetic surgery.

Board certification: there is only one true board certification in plastic surgery, The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). It is the only certfication in plastic surgery that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). There are many copycats, and pseudo boards where nonsurgeons and non-plastic surgeons try to credential themselves with pseudo titles to be able to use the terms plastic or cosmetic surgeon. The certification process is extremely difficult, and has the highest failure rate of any certificate in medicine and surgery. This grueling examination requires six to nine months of preparation with a written examination and oral examination. Once this process is complete, one is able to state that they are a “Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.”