What is the meaning of “well qualified rheumatology doctor”?
For doctors to specialize in certain fields, they have to go through certain training programs, then they should pass certain exams to become “qualified” for these specialties.
In recent years following a series of high profile cases around the world, where some doctors claiming to have specialization in certain fields were found to have faked their documents and caused significant harm to some patients and in order to protect patients from such scams and from substandard treatment by under-qualified doctors, different agencies have given patients the ability to verify whether the doctor they see is properly qualified.
For example if a doctor claims American training in internal medicine (whether general internal medicine alone or with more advanced specialization like cardiology, pulmonology or rheumatology) patients can simply go to the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) website and verify the status of certification of this doctor. Other countries may have similar systems.
Same for licensing, certain states in the US give patients the ability to check whether the doctor holds a license to practice in that state, for example in Wisconsin patients can simply visit this link (choose MEDICINE AND SURGERY then enter name) and check for the status of the doctor’s license.
DHCC (Dubai Health Care City) has a similar system (using last name). Other states or countries may have similar systems.
This way, patients have more power to know the quality of care they receive.
The difference between certification and licensing:
Certification confirms that the doctor has done the required training and passed the exams of the specialty by certain boards (some of them are independent of the government), while licensing confirms that he/she is qualified to work in that country or state as per the government rules.
For examplem a doctor may be certified by certain board like ABIM, but his license may be revoked in a state or country due to legal issues, such doctor cannot practice in that area even if he is certified by a board, and sometimes the licensing requirements of the government can be higher than the certification of the doctor.
Dubai Health Care City (DHCC):
DHCC is a medical free zone established in Dubai to provide high standards of health care. DHCC has strict licensing requirements to guarantee the quality of care provided to patients, due to that only a minority of doctors can be licensed at DHCC.
What is the meaning of “fellowship” or “membership”?
This issue is a bit tricky, because it differs a lot from place to place even in the same country, for example in the USA fellowship may mean the proper training in higher specialty like Pulmonary or Rheumatology that requires several years of rigorous training followed by taking high level exams, resulting in highly qualified specialist, but on the other side it can mean just applying for membership in a professional society (without any proper training, and from anywhere in the world) and paying the fees much like paying the fees to subscribe to any magazine without any required qualification.
What make things even more confusing is that in other countries it might still have other meanings.
This confusion is being used by some to give an image of good education or training in the USA while in reality they have never received any proper education or training there.