President's Newsletter June 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
I am writing this from Germany, where I am attending the World Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (WAOCS). We have much in common with our international colleagues. As cosmetic surgery becomes more and more popular, the definitions of cosmetic surgery, inter-professional turf battles, and increasing governmental restrictions on who can do what, where, and how, are affecting all of us.
Cosmetic surgery, as a distinct specialty differs from other subspecialties by the variety of backgrounds that our colleagues bring to this field. Dermatology, Gynecology, ENT, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery and others are all active, and historically major contributions have come from each. Yet this inclusiveness is marred around the world by turf wars and governmental lobbying in the name of "patient safety" by some who wish to restrict the definition of cosmetic surgery to the purview of one or another specialty.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) has worked diligently to establish a testing process, eligibility criteria, and standards that are the equivalent of other surgical specialty boards. Despite their achievements, legislation has been put forth in California, New York, Florida, and other states to prohibit using the term "Board Certified" to any specialties not accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties and their osteopathic analogue. The California Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, with the support of ABCS and AACS, mounted a vigorous, year-long campaign to block this legislation in California, and was successful in defeating it. This marks a huge victory for our organizations, and will hopefully set the precedent that the cosmetic surgery specialty is united, strong, and here to stay.
But there is much work left to be done. The Florida legislature has already passed a bill with the same wording –making it illegal for ABCS Diplomates (and any other non-ABMS Diplomates) to use "board" or "certified" in their advertising. A similar bill is presently moving through the New York State legislature and one can still be introduced in the next California legislative session. It will take all of our efforts to defeat these bills, so I encourage you to get involved any way you can. Rest assured that we, as your representatives and advocates, will do everything in our power to battle for your rights as cosmetic surgery specialists.
On a positive note, the ABCS has successfully joined with the World Academy of Cosmetic Surgery to form the International Division of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, a process that will continue to advance the concept of cosmetic surgery as a distinct specialty that deserves professional recognition. The first international candidates may be sitting for the exam this October.
The AACS has always been an inclusive organization, promoting education in cosmetic surgery in ways that assure proper training, and the protection of patient safety, and satisfactory outcomes. The turf battles, attempts to limit the scope of practice to certain specialties, and other actions that amount to restraint of trade can only be effectively contained if our membership acknowledges this important work by renewing their membership. All politics are local, as the saying goes, but they extend worldwide. Renew now.