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Questions about transplant surgeon/physician certification? UNOS membership has the answers

Questions about transplant surgeon/physician certification? UNOS membership has the answers

Springtime means graduation, which means many new doctors are seeking transplant surgeon certifications. Below are some issues UNOS membership staffers commonly encounter in their day to day interactions with transplant centers. Please review them to help your application process go more smoothly.

MYTH: My new surgeon/physician has to be approved by UNOS before she or he can start practicing in our transplant program.

TRUTH: UNOS does not dictate whether doctors are able to practice medicine.  Decisions on whether and when an individual is allowed to participate in a transplant program are up to the hospital.  When a new individual joins a transplant program, UNOS staff can add their name, contact information, and occupation(s) to the UNOS Membership Database under the transplant program staff.  UNOS may require additional documents if you are designating that individual as an “Additional” surgeon or physician, but again, receipt of this information only affects how we list that individual in the UNOS database and has no bearing on their ability to practice medicine.

MYTH: A surgeon or physician previously or currently approved to serve in the role of Primary Surgeon or Physician for a transplant program can take that approval with them to a new transplant program, and their new program does not have to submit a fully completed application because  the information is already “on file” with UNOS.

TRUTH: When it comes to serving in the role of Primary Surgeon or Physician, “you can’t take it with you”. Any time your transplant program proposes an individual as the Primary Surgeon or Physician, your program must submit a complete application with full documentation for that proposed surgeon or physician. This must occur regardless of how many times that individual has previously served as Primary Surgeon or Physician. Please also keep in mind that since all applications submitted to UNOS pertain to the membership of the transplant program (as opposed to individual doctors) and are protected under Confidential Medical Peer Review processes, previously submitted applications can only be released back to the transplant program that initially sent it in.

MYTH: UNOS has a certification process for doctors who have completed a transplant fellowship or who have transplant experience and want to become “UNOS-certified” transplant surgeons and physicians.

TRUTH: UNOS does not certify individual doctors. UNOS certification applies to the transplant program as a whole. The programs are required to designate a Primary Surgeon and Primary Physician and the criteria for those roles are located in the OPTN Bylaws, but these criteria only need to be met by the individuals that the transplant program is proposing as Primary Surgeon or Physician.

Feb. 18, 2021, link updated to OPTN bylaws

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