Dr. Rand Paul flunks board certification questions

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.




Rand Paul’s Upstart Ophthalmology Group Leaves Little Mark
Articles of Incorporation of the National Board of Ophthalmology, Inc.
Certificate of Dissolution

7 thoughts on “Dr. Rand Paul flunks board certification questions

  1. Like his dad, Dr. Ron Paul, Dr. Rand Paul isn’t going to compromise his principles just because others do. People who actually still trust government sanctioned regulatory agencies ought to buy into off shore petroleum drilling and recovery operations. Buy stock in GM and Chrysler, in AIG, the BOA, in the FDIC and all the other “lenders of last resort” as well as help reelect supporters of the FED’s counterfeiting based strategy to create economic recovery. If you’d rather believe in arbitrary titles than in an established history of positive results and satisfied customers, sign up for more of the same politics that got us where we are today.

    His previous statements regarding the federal governments lack of constitutional authority to dictate that private property owners sublimate their rights to a collective espousing evolving arbitrary entitlements are only controversial among people who are ignorant of the federal governments enumerated powers.

    He’d get my vote if I were a constituent.

    1. Board certification doesn’t come through a government sanctioned regulatory agency. It comes from a professional organization of one’s peers. It’s about maintaining a standard of care. Paul isn’t bucking the government here; he’s bucking his professional peers. Of course he doesn’t have to participate or comply. But he does owe it to his patients, colleagues, and employers not to misrepresent his credentials.

      His medical license, on the other hand, was and is a matter of government regulation. Apparently he thought it was okay to compromise his principles long enough to get licensed.

      1. Working within the rule of law may or may not require a compromise in principle, but performing a service without a license (even a despicable one) is to abandon the rule of law and operate as a criminal. If there were ever a compromise, acting as a criminal would qualify.

        What is the certification issue that precludes Dr. Paul from consenting to be obligated to it over what he must believe is in the best interests of his patients? I confess that I don’t know, but I’d be willing to bet that it involves some aspect of his loosing personal responsibility for his patients welfare.

        1. I found the reason for Dr. Rand Paul creating a competing certification organization. As I surmised, his reason is rooted in credibility for his profession. You can see it here.

        2. As I understand it, before 1992, ABO certifications had no expiration. After that, ABO started issuing 10-year certifications; ophthalmologists certified before 1992 were grandfathered in, meaning they didn’t have to be recertified. Paul formed his own group in 1999, allowed it to dissolve a year later because he didn’t file an annual report, and then restarted it in 2005, two months before his accredited ABO certification expired.

          Seemingly he was content with an ABO certification until just before his expired in 2005, at which point he opted to self-certify rather than submit to an ABO exam for re-certification.

          If he was really standing on principle, he’d have quit the ABO in 1992 right after they changed their rules.

  2. It would be interesting to hear his side of the story. Meanwhile we’re forced to surmise the reasons for the time line you mention. Regardless, I appreciate the information you’ve pointed out because facts are always better than assumptions even when we may not understand the reasons for their existence.

... and that's my two cents