The Problem With The News – The Pea Under The Thimble.

Share Button

There is news concerning Rand Paul and his lack of membership in the American Board of Ophthalmology. The article opens like this:

Rand Paul, who touts his career as a Kentucky eye doctor as part of his outsider credentials in his campaign for U.S. Senate, isn’t certified by his profession’s leading group.

After being a member for about ten years, disagreements with aspects of ABO re-certification policy led him to walk away from that organization and form a rival group, the National Board of Ophthalmology. His actions, as described in the article, sound well within a libertarian character; that would be something an independent libertarian might do. Note there is no hint in the article that there is any question concerning his competence as a surgeon. The thing that is interesting is that neither group, the ABO and the NBO have nothing to do with state certification.:

Neither group has anything to do with medical licensure, which is handled by state boards.

So, what is this story about, and why is it so important to be a member of this group? From the ABO homepage:

Founded in 1916, the American Board of Ophthalmology is an independent, nonprofit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists (eye physicians and surgeons) in the United States… …The mission of the American Board of Ophthalmology is to serve the public by improving the quality of ophthalmic practice through a certification and maintenance of certification process that fosters excellence and encourages continual learning.

But it also notes this:

It is not the purpose of the Board to define the requirements for membership to hospital staffs or to gain special recognition or privileges for its diplomates in the practice of ophthalmology. Neither is its purpose to state who may or may not practice ophthalmology, nor to define the scope of ophthalmic practice. The Board does not seek to obtain special privileges for its diplomates over other qualified physicians. The certificate of the Board does not confer any academic degree, legal qualifications, privilege, or license to practice ophthalmology.

And according to the FAQ page, they don’t have any investigatory responsibilities either. So what is the function of the organization? It appears to be something like a union. I’m not knocking the organization at all. They do perform a very useful function in the medical community… for those who wish to participate. But membership to this organization is not mandatory, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul’s NBO membership get’s a nice boost due to this publicity.

PS. The granddaddy of them all, the AMA, also falls into this type of medical union-ish club.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply