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Credentialing Void

Article-Credentialing Void

Key iconKey Points

  • National standards in the field of anti-aging medicine do not exist
  • Various organizations are stepping in to fill the credentialing void
  • Experts caution that many such programs appear geared toward making money, not practicing evidence-based medicine

Dr. Hirsch
NATIONAL REPORT — With no national standards in the field of anti-aging medicine, various organizations are stepping in to fill the credentialing void, sources say. However, experts caution that many such programs appear geared toward making money, not practicing evidence-based medicine.

"It's very popular right now for many nonphysicians to try and reinvent themselves as dermatologists and plastic surgeons via the pursuit of 'cosmetic' or 'aesthetic' certification, neither of which are universally recognized nor clearly defined terms," says Ranella J. Hirsch, M.D., FAAD, chair of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Scope of Practice Committee, and president-elect of the American Society for Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery (ASCDAS). "In fact," she tells Cosmetic Surgery Times , "there is no universally accepted and standardized program by which one becomes a 'cosmetic' or 'aesthetic' specialist."

Presently, says Dr. Hirsch, "The best and only recognized training to practice dermatology or plastic surgery is a residency and board certification in dermatology or plastic surgery, a process requiring a minimum of four or more years of training."

However, Dean P. Kane, M.D., F.A.C.S., says that for him, being a provider of anti-aging medicine is "a title [for which] I spent a tremendous amount of time and motivation in self-education," namely 2.5 years completing the American Board of Anti-Aging/Regenerative Medicine (ABAARM) certification process created by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M). He is a Baltimore-based cosmetic surgeon in private practice at the Center for Cosmetic Surgery and MediSpa.

A4M is an 11,500-member nonprofit that describes itself as "the sole medical society dedicated to the advancement of therapeutics related to the science of longevity medicine" (its officials declined interviews). It defines anti-aging medicine as "the next great model of health care for the new millennium," based on the early detection, prevention and reversal of age-related disease through evidence-based multidisciplinary diagnostic and treatment tools.

Dr. Narurkar
JUNK SCIENCE? Nevertheless, says Dr. Kane, "It's very important for the individual who might be thinking about getting board certification in anti-aging medicine to be very well aware what is real science and what is junk science" such as supplements that promise anti-aging powers. Nobody teaches this distinction, he adds, "And A4M is not going to" either.

Requirements for A4M certification include an active medical license, attendance at two or more consecutive A4M-approved sponsored conferences, 200 hours of related continuing medical education (CME) credits or equivalent plus a written and oral exam (including presentation of six case studies).

Dr. Kane says symposia he attended covered biochemistry, neurology, genomics and more — "It was like going to a very general medical conference" delivered by anti-aging thought leaders, adds Dr. Kane, whose practice includes a certified physical therapist, two aestheticians and a nurse practitioner who provides smoking cessation and weight loss treatments.

Without American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognition, Dr. Kane says he's under no illusion that he possesses "functional board certification" from A4M. Rather, he says this certification shows he is better-educated than noncertified peers, "And I have a benchmark to prove it."

AGELESS EDUCATION Somewhat similarly, the Ageless Aesthetic Institute (AAI) offers American Medical Association Physician Recognition Award (PRA) level 4 CME certification in aesthetic procedures, says Sharon McQuillan, M.D., a family practitioner and AAI's founder. To date, the program has produced 564 graduates including dermatologists, oculoplastic surgeons, internists and OB/GYNs, she adds.

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