February 8, 2020 - David Nguyen, M.D.

"Board Certification" can be a confusing term for patients looking to find a surgeon who is well trained. What is it? How you they get it? What does mean about how good of a surgeon they are?

The Board Certification process was made for each medical specialty (i.e. Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Cardiology, etc.) in order to ensure that doctors entering that specialty surpass minimum quality and educational standards. Plastic surgeons will typically go through at least 10 years of medical education prior to entering the board certification process.

Physicians must have graduated from an accredited medical school. They then must complete either a General Surgery Residency (5 years) followed by a fellowship in Plastic Surgery (3 years), or they must complete a more modern integrated residency (6 years). Integrated residencies may include 1-3 years of General Surgery followed by 3-5 years of Plastic Surgery.

Once your doctor has completed their plastic surgery residency and/or fellowship training at an ACGME-accredited Plastic Surgery training program, they become eligible to enter the Board Certification process. During this time, they must maintain:

1) A current, full, valid, and unrestricted medical license and
2) The Code of Ethics as defined by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

The Board Certification process includes taking examinations over two years. The written exam is taken during October of the first year and involves 7 hours of answering 350 multiple choice questions about all aspects of plastic surgery (i.e. cosmetic, craniofacial, hand, pediatrics, breast reconstruction, wound care, etc).

The oral examination occurs during November of the second year. Your plastic surgeon must submit 9 months' worth of cases to the American Board of Plastic Surgery for review. The Board requires a minimum of 50 major cases with enough varying complexity to adequately measure skill and competence across the breadth of plastic surgery. The oral examination itself involves three grueling exam sessions over two days.

When your plastic surgeon passes the oral examination, he/she will finally be Board Certified in Plastic Surgery!



Dr. Nguyen attended 4 years of medical school at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine (2008 - 2012). He then completed an integrated Plastic Surgery training program. The first two years of General Surgery training, including internship, were completed at UCLA (2012-2014). He then completed four years of Plastic Surgery training at Loma Linda University (2014 - 2018). Upon finishing residency, he became Board Eligible and entered the Board Certification process in 2019. This past October, he successfully passed the written examination, and he plans to sit for the oral examination in November 2020.