The American Board of Plastic Surgery has released it's 2008 data on it's most recent board-certification testing applicants. Board certification takes passing both a written exam followed by an oral examination in the next 1-2 years.
The failure rate for each exam traditionally hovers around 20% ( 19.6 % for the written and 21.4 % for the orals in 2007 ), which is highest among all the surgical specialties certification processes, and continues to reaffirm the general opinion that the ABPS exam is the most difficult to pass. Another thing to keep in mind is that due to the intense competition for training spots, even those 20% who failed either exam were likely among the top-performing students in their medical school classes (for those who were in "integrated" programs where you start out of medical school) or in their prerequisite surgical residencies.
You can check your doctor's board-certification status for free at the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)site (click here ). The ABMS is the American gold-standard for physician accredidation and is what people are referring to when they talk about "board certification". Please note that organizations like the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, and the American board of Cosmetic Gynecology(?)are not ( and likely will never ) be recognized by the ABMS.
The celebrity blog, Knifestyles of the Rich and Famous (LOVE that name!) had a post in December, " Doing Due Dilligence", (click here to read), which gives a little overview for the laypeople on this topic that's worth reading.