I’ve been around the block a few times in terms of having been duped by a myriad of get-famous-quick schemes. After all, a young plastic surgeon just out of residency has to make a name for himself somehow, and the lure of some organization offering you their cloak of legitimacy seems like a first step on the road to stardom.
Most plastic surgeons who are board-certified wear that cloak offered by the American Board of Plastic Surgery after they have passed their exams and practiced for two years after residency. Most patients hardly care or know the difference between being board-certified by the bona fide plastic surgery society or the bogus cosmetic surgery society, and the government makes no attempt to control false advertising or teach the public the differences in training, etc.
So plastic surgeons fall prey to the other associations that will bestow honors upon them. When I first started my own plastic surgery practice 20 years ago, it was my turn to fall for “The Who’s Who in America.” I received a letter telling me that an esteemed group had nominated me and approved my inclusion into the Who’s Who. For $275, I also got a wooden plaque with my name on it to hang on the wall and was offered the chance to buy the actual book of Who’s Who—for another couple of hundred dollars. I declined that but did check in the book my brother bought from Who’s Who after he was “elected”; he’s a lawyer and they also have egos that fall for this type of stuff. The following year, my card was charged by the organization again without my knowledge, and after I blew a fuse I asked never to be contacted by them again.
Still, our egos are such silly idiots that they fall for this type of stuff at every turn. Patients don’t help the matter, either, as they look for these extraneous medals of societal approval without knowing their worth (or lack of it).
Ten years ago, the market changed. I was offered another wooden plaque with an image of the advertisement I was asked to place in Vogue magazine. I placed the ad and got my “As Seen in Vogue Magazine” plaque and displayed it proudly for years in the waiting room. It was so chic.
Then came a deluge of organizations that wanted to give me wooden and brass plaques. “Best Doctor in DC,” “Best Doctor in Virginia,” “Best Doctor in the USA,” “Washingtonian Magazine Best Doctor,” “Northern Virginia Magazine Best Doctor,” etc. It seemed as if anyone with a printer could make a list and, for a small price, include you on it.
The advertising market (yes, sadly that is all it is) has matured since then and done away with the paper to save trees. Internet advertising is king, and I have been duped again.
Today, one is nominated by the unknown to receive awards by the even less known directly through internet. The email of congratulations is shortly followed by a solicitation for a $200/plaque offer from the “Patient’s Choice Award Company” (I have received the award two years in a row). I can order as many plaques as I want to impress my patients. I was also the lucky and grateful recipient of the “Compassionate Doctor Award” last year, but since I did not buy the plaque I may have been deemed less compassionate. Maybe I’ll get the “Best Grumpy Surgeon” award this year, but I’m really hoping to get the “Best Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon in the World” award. Please do vote for me—there are only 60,000 awards to be handed out!
Here is their email to me:
|Dr. Tavallali,I wanted to make sure you did not miss this. Your 2011 Patients’ Choice Award is still available. I can send it to you and invoice you later. All you need to do is hit reply and let me know how many plaques you would like to order. You will be invoiced $159 + $12.90 shipping per plaque you order (net 20 terms).If you prefer to review and order online, click here to visit your personalized page.|
Please let me know if you have any questions.