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Tuesday 15 October 2013

What do the letters after a surgeons name mean?

All surgeons have qualifications of one sort or another and take pride in formally listing those qualifications after their name (I am no exception!). But what do all those letters mean? This short blog attempts to explain some of the more common letters seen in association with Cosmetic Surgery:

MBBS or MBChB (Medical Bachelor and Bachelor of Surgery)

This is the basic UK medical qualification that all doctors achieve when they leave medical school

BSc (Bachelor of Science - with or without Honours)

This is a University Degree based in an area of science (in my case, neuroscience)

MA or MSc (Master of Arts or Master of Science)

This is a post-graduate Masters degree based either in Science or the Arts (in my case I hold a Masters degree in Medical Ethics). Please note that students who qualify from Oxford or Cambridge Universities are awarded an MA simply by virtue of the fact that they went to those Universities without having to do any further study! An historical hangover and a bugbear of mine...

MD or PhD (Medical Doctorate or Philosophy Doctorate)

These represent a period spent in formal research. This is usually 2 years for MD and 3 years for PhD. The qualification is awarded for successfully defending a thesis.

MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons)

This is awarded to junior trainees who have completed BASIC surgical training. It is not an indication of specialist training and one would expect an aspiring surgeon to achieve this qualification after 2 years of basic surgical training. It requires the candidate to pass a written exam, a clinical exam, and a viva voce (oral) exam. A trainee surgeon can use the title 'Mr' with this qualification, so be aware that 'Mr' does not equal 'Consultant'

FRCS(plast) (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons specialising in Plastic Surgery)

This is the most important qualification. It confirms that the holder has passed their exit specialty examination in Plastic Surgery to UK standards. It consists of two written examinations followed, 3 months later, by examined clinical patient encounters and viva voce (oral) examinations. If a surgeon does not hold this qualification, there is no guarantee as to the quality of their training in Plastic Surgery.

In addition to these qualifications, see my previous blog for additional information regarding the GMC Specialist Register and membership of BAPRAS or BAAPS

Be safe, be informed!

As ever, all comments welcome

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