Most people book air travel with commercial airlines such as Delta or Southwest without reservation or hesitation. There is an underlying assumption that airline travel is safe. You assume that all employees from the pilot, to the flight attendant, mechanic, and support staff that everyone is qualified, up to date in the latest procedures, and thoroughly vetted prior to being hired. For the airline industry, this is largely true I assume due to strict regulations from the FAA. I wish I could say the same for medicine. Imagine you are mid-flight and are notified that your pilots only qualification was that he had taken a weekend seminar on how to fly a jumbo jet. Yikes! Where is the parachute located? You may have even been told from friends that he was the BEST pilot around based on their personal experience. Unfortunately this situation occurs in dermatology and other medical specialties too frequently. Not every doctor is qualified or certified in the specialty they advocate they are experts in and unfortunately our community has a huge issue with unqualified dermatologists.
This begs the question, “Is your doctor qualified to do what he or she does?” Just saying you are a dermatologist doesn’t necessarily mean you are one. Here is a little about my background. After college I attended LSU School of Medicine for 4 years and received a doctorate of medicine. I went on to complete 5 additional years of training at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in an accredited program in a dual residency of both dermatology and internal medicine. I sat for my dermatology specialty boards, and passed, so I could be a Board Certified Dermatologist by the American Board of Dermatology. I was horrified learning once settling down and opening a practice in Covington, LA that there are numerous physicians advertising and practicing dermatology without qualification or certification. That’s like getting into a cab where the driver has no driver’s license or an airplane is flown by the mechanic. It’s sad that patients are required to do homework prior to seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, there is no law against practicing outside your specialty. The LSBME treats all M.D.’s or D.O.’s the same so they are free to practice medicine outside of any formal qualification just for graduating from medical school.
There are several physicians in our community with DERMATOLOGY on their logo with no formal accredited training. They perform both medical and cosmetic treatments to unsuspecting patients and advocate they are “experts.” You will hear their advertisements on the television and radio. Do NOT assume they are qualified. You MUST ask if your dermatologist, or any other physician for that matter, is board certified in his or her specialty. It is your only proof of a standardized qualification.
As a patient, you must protect yourself. You must inquire if your doctor is board certified. Your quality of health care depends on it. Don’t settle for untrained health care just based on someone else’s recommendation or the internet. Your life may depend on in it.
Erik Soine, M.D., F.A.A.D.
Board Certified Dermatologist by the American Board of Dermatology.