Rand Paul seems to have really gotten in over his head with his run for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. He started poorly with some off-the-wall comments about civil rights and the BP oil spill. And now something more important than his candidacy is under fire.
It seems the good Dr. Paul is not necessarily a good doctor. It has come to light — no doubt with the help of his political opponents — that he is not the “board certified” ophthalmologist he has claimed to be. Well, not in the generally accepted sense. He is self-certified by his own board, the National Board of Ophthalmology, the one he established with himself as president, his wife as vice president, and his father-in-law as secretary back in 1999 because he didn’t care for the way the real board, the American Board of Ophthalmology, did things. It’s one thing to be a libertarian and disdain authority, and quite another to thumb your nose at the folks in whose professional world you want to make your living.
Paul has every right to test his political ideas in the public arena. But for him to represent himself as a “board certified ophthalmologist” when he knows he is not, is deceitful. Worse, he could have been endangering his patients’ well being. There are rules and regulations about licensing, exams, continuing medical education, and regular recertification with which board certified physicians comply. Paul has sidestepped those requirements. He is licensed to practice medicine and he may be “board qualified,” but he is not a board certified specialist in ophthalmology.
I can’t believe Paul would play games with the truth with his patients’ health at stake. It sounds like he thinks he’s better than other doctors and doesn’t have to abide by the same rules. The state should reprimand him or suspend his medical license for a couple of years over this — not because he isn’t properly licensed, but because he deliberately misrepresented his certification. (Licensing and certification are two different things.)
“It’s a personal assault on my ability to make a living,” Paul told an AP reporter.
Yes, this might be messing with his livelihood. But this isn’t about politics or Paul’s livelihood. It’s about ethics, public trust, and patient safety. It’s about following the rules. Sometimes if you’re feeling libertarian and want to buck the system and the powers that be, that’s fine. But if you want to be accepted as a legitimate practicing physician, you’d better plan on doing it by the book.