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Keeping your child in good health is one of your greatest responsibilities as a parent. So of course, you want to choose the best pediatrician you can. One of the best ways to select the right pediatrician is to look into the certifications they hold.
1. American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) Certificate in General Pediatrics
Once any physician completes their medical training, they must become licensed in the state where they wish to practice. And before a medical school graduate can become a pediatrician, they must complete an accredited three-year training program in pediatrics.
For doctors who want to go above and beyond and demonstrate competency, board certification is the next step. Unlike state medical licensure, board certification is optional. To become board certified, a physician needs to take and pass a demanding exam and demonstrate their commitment to excellence in their field.
The exact board certification a physician pursues depends on their specialty. The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) administers the board certification exam for pediatricians. After passing the initial exam, board-certified pediatricians must maintain their certification with periodic assessments. The Maintenance of Certification Assessment for Pediatrics (MOCA-Peds) is the most common assessment. Pediatricians can complete the Peds MOCA online every five years.
A board-certified pediatrician doesn’t only have to demonstrate knowledge in medicine. The certification process evaluates a given pediatrician’s professionalism, patient care abilities, and communication skills in addition to their medical knowledge.
If you want to verify whether or not any doctor is board certified, you can check quickly and easily on the website of the board in question. Even if a doctor seems perfectly trustworthy, it doesn’t hurt to check.
Fellowship in the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not issue board certifications, but it’s one of the most prominent institutions in the world of pediatric care. The AAP publishes books, magazines, and other resources for parents and physicians alike. It’s also a professional association for pediatricians and others in the field.
Anyone with a career in pediatrics can become a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. But once a pediatrician has become board certified, they can apply to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP). Pediatricians who become Fellows have a desire to make a difference in the field: they can vote on AAP issues, get special access to newer research, and network with other respected pediatricians. Through Academy activities and continuing education programs, these physicians are able to stay abreast of new developments in pediatrics and provide excellent care to their patients.
Becoming a Fellow is not a requirement for pediatricians, but a FAAP designation certainly sets a pediatrician apart. Many physicians are board certified, so if you want to be especially discerning in your search, look for a pediatrician who is an AAP Fellow.
ABP Subspecialty Certifications
If you’re seeking a general pediatrician, you probably don’t need to look for a doctor with a subspecialty certification. But if your child has specific health needs, you may want to.
Once a pediatrician receives their board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics, they have the option to become certified in one or more subspecialties. The ABP offers examinations for 13 different subspecialties, including adolescent medicine, neonatal and perinatal medicine, pediatric pulmonology, and pediatric cardiology.
Choosing a subspecialty-certified pediatrician becomes important if your child has certain diagnoses. For instance, if your child has heart issues, you may want to choose a doctor with a pediatric cardiology subspecialty. For a child with kidney problems, look for a pediatrician with a subspecialty in pediatric nephrology. And if your child struggles with behavioral or developmental issues, a pediatrician with a certification in developmental-behavioral pediatrics is a good choice.
Each subspecialty has its own training requirements. Just like the general board certification in pediatrics, subspecialty certifications require periodic recertification exams.
When there are plenty of pediatricians near you, it can be hard to know how to pick the best one. But by checking for board certification and any other certifications you find important, you can easily evaluate potential doctors and choose the right one for your child. It’s the first step toward ensuring a healthy, happy childhood!