Distinguishing the Surgical Specialist vs. Expert
We are often asked about what level of experience is offered, so we hope this brochure is helpful to you when considering how to choose a surgeon.
Specialized Practice and Training
A specialist is a physician or surgeon who has received 3-12 months of extra training under the mentoring of an expert in the field, or in an academic center (a fellowship), and declares an interest or focus on that field in his/her practice. Often there is a CAQ (Certificate of Added Qualification) in the sub-specialty field that can be obtained by taking a test. There is no licensing required to say that you specialize in an area, and not all specialists are necessarily busy, experienced or solely devoted to the field. Therefore, it is only a minority of these “specialists” who would be considered experts in their field of practice.
An expert practices medicine in a narrow field of specialization, and therefore is a specialist. However, the expert would have many additional qualifications and much more exhaustive experience in the field, to the degree that he/she is widely recognized on a national and even international level by those who are also experts in the field. The expert’s practice, by definition, has a wide tertiary referral pattern and provides care for the most complex problems at the highest level. An expert generally does a high volume of both routine primary, revision and complex surgical cases, including all types of athletes – pediatric, adolescent, high school, college and professional. Generally, an expert has also been formally recognized or awarded as an expert by third-party organizations.
Whitney Eady, RN, BSN
Whitney is an orthopedic nurse with 30 years of experience in the field. She has been Dr. Cooper’s coordinator for 22 years. She has the communication skills, experience, and helpful attitude to assist patients with appointments and surgical patients in navigating the increasingly complex process of the healthcare and insurance system related to surgical practice.
Santana Gonzales, OPA-C
Santana is a veteran Orthopedic Physician Assistant with 35 years of experience in arthroscopic surgery and sports medicine. He is Dr. Cooper’s primary assistant in surgery and has worked at the Carrell Clinic for 12 years. Formerly, he was employed by two widely recognized experts in the field.
Specialist vs. Expert Checklist
Patients, players, families, and agents frequently feel the need for comparisons. We have prepared the following checklist to illustrate the possible qualifications that a surgeon can attain, and how Dr. Cooper’s practice measures up in these categories:
|Surgeon who Specializes||Expert Qualifications||Dr. Cooper’s Practice|
|Interest in Field|
|Certified as Specialist|
|Practices only in specialty|
|Decades of experience|
|Surgeon for professionals|
|Widely recognized elsewhere as an expert|
|High volume of cases|
|Publishes basic research|
|Publishes surgical results|
|Trains other surgeons|
|National & International speaker|
|Consultant to many pro teams and agents|
|Expert surgical team & experienced staff|