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What Does ‘Board-Certified’ Mean? Clarifying This Physician Credential

When choosing a new doctor, there are a handful of things you know you should investigate. You probably consider their geographic location, compatibility with your insurance plan, and experience. You might also want to look into whether the physician in question is board-certified.

You’ve heard this is an important factor, but what does board-certified mean, exactly? Keep reading to learn more about board certification and the thorough process physicians go through to obtain it.


There’s no doubt any practicing physician has gone through a rigorous medical education and training process. Board-certified physicians have chosen to go even further by obtaining additional education in a given specialty and demonstrating their knowledge.

“Board certification signifies the highest level of accreditation within a given specialty.”

“Board certification signifies the highest level of accreditation within a given specialty,” explains Dr. Mark Beaty, board-certified facial plastic surgeon. He adds that it indicates the physician is highly trained, underwent additional strenuous testing and has knowledge and clinical skills reviewed by peers in the specialty.

Unlike obtaining a medical license, becoming board-certified is not mandatory to begin a career in medicine. It’s an optional extra step. Some physici


Whether board certification truly matters depends on whom you ask. Some argue it’s merely an extra hoop physicians must jump through to satisfy demand from patients. Research comparing physicians who are board-certified with those who are not has been relatively inconclusive, because studies vary widely in their methodology and the variables measured. Critics also suggest recertification detracts from patient care, which should be top priority.

But many physicians recognize there’s value. “Board certification confers extra confidence that your physician is well-qualified,” Dr. Beaty offers.

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