Dermatology provides an opportunity for you to help patients achieve healthy skin. As a dermatologist, you get the chance to help patients by diagnosing and treating skin conditions. This article sheds more light on this healthcare career is, their functions, and the certifications required.
Dermatologists are physician specialists. They diagnose and treat disorders that affect the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membrane. They possess skills that help them treat skin conditions that range from acne to cancer. Their extent of service broadens due to the diverse nature of the different skin conditions their patients have.
Some of the tasks of dermatologists include:
• Meet patients with skin and nails or hair irregularities
This primary task allows dermatologists to record patient history, observe abnormalities, examine the patients and discuss the diagnosis.
• Develop a treatment plan
Dermatologists develop treatment plans from the patient’s conditions. Their methods may vary from medical prescriptions, surgical processes, or physical removal of abnormalities.
• Address cosmetics concerns
Due to their vast knowledge of the skin, its tissues, and cells, dermatologists are equipped with the correct expertise to address cosmetic concerns that range from aging to the presence of birthmarks. They use different medical advancements such as laser treatment to remove birthmarks successfully. Also, they can carry out skin grafting to help restore damaged skin to near originality.
• Perform follow up examinations and treatments
Dermatologists are tasked with carrying out follow-up examinations and treatments to ascertain if the treatment is yielding fruits. As most dermatological processes cannot be resolved in one sitting, scheduling follow-up tests help them see if the course of action is functional. They can also use these sessions to administer other medications or change the prescription given to speed up recovery.
The above shows the tasks a dermatologist carries out. However, due to the broadness of skin conditions and needs. The field categorizes dermatologists differently using the training they receive. It provides them an opportunity to focus on specific areas and gain more expertise in that area.
Skills a Dermatologist Should Possess
Attention to details
The changes in skin conditions are minor and need a person to be extremely careful to identify them. The various patterns that cause skin conditions or act as a trigger can also be too trivial that require a person to be extremely keen on details to catch them. Thus, to excel in this field, the person must have a keen eye for minute details.
Excellent communication skills enable dermatologists to adequately explain to patients their condition and understand the treatment process. You need to ensure that your communication properly explains what you expect from them and how they can execute the treatment process. You must also possess excellent verbal and written skills to correctly capture the diagnosis and treatment formula used while carefully listening to what the patient says as lifestyle decisions trigger some skin conditions.
Excellent With Their Hands
A dermatologist’s job entails removing skin conditions using sharp objects on the surface or inside the skin. Thus, a person must have a mastery of such tools to enable them to treat the patient without making any unwanted incisions. Some of these procedures are cosmetic. You must thus have the proper mastery to allow you to perform the function without scarring the patient. This mastery is a skill that must be honed and comes from years of experience and consistent practice.
Dermatologists tend to a vast number of patients who mostly have follow-up schedules. Thus, you must have proper excellent skills to ensure you professionally slot in with your clients and do not overwork yourself. By having good organizational skills, you can properly track your patient’s recovery process, meet their needs, and help them recover as your calendar is promptly updated to schedule their appointments.
The nature of a dermatologist’s job requires excellent problem-solving skills as most skin conditions start to from the inside. They must thus correctly identify the issue and prescribe the correct treatment to help sort the problem. Some skin conditions may also be stubborn or keep recurring; therefore, your problem-solving skills can help you devise permanent solutions to such issues.
Some skin conditions require other general physicians’ help to solve; thus, a dermatologist should possess this skill to help them work well with others to meet their clients’ needs. These skin conditions may also manifest an internal problem; thus, knowing when to ask for help or work with others is essential to help your patients get exhaustive medical care.
To become an excellent dermatologist, you need to have the mental strength to withstand long hours in operation rooms, properly manage patients, and collaborate with other doctors to get the necessary treatment. Mental strength will also provide you with the stamina you need to help you succeed in the ield and not let the course’s competitive nature take a toll on you.
Types and Categories of Dermatologists
There are about 3000 skin conditions, and depending on their severity, you can choose to see a specific type of dermatologist. Dermatologists are categorized differently to enable them to carry out particular functions with finesse. The different categories include;
• Pediatric dermatologists
• Surgical dermatologists
• Cosmetic dermatologists
Children generally have weaker immune systems as their immunity is still developing, making them susceptible to skin disorders. Their skin is also in the early stage of formation. It makes them prone to a wider variety of attacks. When they are little, it may be challenging to identify what they react to as they cannot speak.
It can be extremely frustrating to a parent as a child will continually crying when they experience discomfort. Working closely with a dermatologist is essential to help you identify the root cause of any skin condition that may affect your child and provide a prompt solution to the issue. Pediatric dermatologist focusses on treating skin conditions that affect the fragile skin of children.
They can correctly diagnose any rush, birthmarks, diaper rash, or allergic reactions that may cause discomfort to the baby. They also specialize in understanding a child’s skin’s growth process and differentiate minor and major skin conditions. Pediatric dermatologists are found in clinics or the pediatric wings of hospitals, making them available for a consult when need be.
Dermatopathologists study and analyze skin cells, tissues, and parts of the body using microscopic analysis. They work to get an in-depth analysis of the extent of skin disease, how it evolves, and its reaction to a different medication. Dermatopathologists spend a lot of time in the lab carrying out research used by other dermatologists to offer diagnosis and plan patients’ treatment methods.
Due to their job nature, they work closely with other physicians offering their research and expertise to help them get proper diagnoses for different skin conditions. Dermatopathologists have a deeper understanding of skin issues as they focus on the internal processes that make a skin disease show in a particular way.
They also provide valuable research to develop different medications and research to see how long it should take before seeing results. Due to the nature of work they do, they also carry out surgical patient roles as they have a deeper understanding of the skin structure.
Surgical dermatologists are also known as procedural dermatologists. They usually come in when oral and injection medication has failed to work, leaving the only available options as surgeries. Surgical dermatologists carry out invasive and noninvasive surgical processes. They are quite similar to a cosmetic dermatologist; they, however, have a broader scope and are not limited to cosmetic surgeries.
Surgical dermatologists carry out several surgeries that include excision of lesions or Moh surgeries whose primary function is to eliminate cancerous cells, skin grafts, or skin flaps. They utilize their vast knowledge of tissues, cells, and internal body functions to properly remove skin malfunctions or repair skin disorders requiring surgical procedures.
Surgical dermatologists also identify the right cells for proper research into the extent of the damage. For example, when treating cancer patients, they use cells and tissues obtained from different body sections to determine which stage of cancer the patient is in. they then use it to identify the probable cause of action to help their patients.
Cosmetic dermatologists are also called aesthetic dermatologists. They carry out procedures meant to enhance skin appearance and help it look healthy and glowing. Cosmetic dermatologists are seen as skin correctors working to improve or eliminate visible skin flaws such as blemishes, wrinkles, sagging skin, or marks caused by eczema.
They also carry out other procedures using laser technology to remove hair, carry out facelifts through face tightening procedures, or remove acne from the face. Different procedures carried out by cosmetic dermatologists are minimally invasive surgical procedures and micro-needling. This type of dermatologist is popular due to the amount of traffic they get from people seeking to better their skin.
Cosmetic dermatologists play a vital role in helping people feel good about themselves using different upcoming technologies to correct skin flaws. However, the field has also seen the rise of many non-qualified people, thus ensure you check a person’s certifications and qualifications before allowing them to carry out a procedure on you.
Immunodermatologists are what we call the unsung legends of this field. They spend countless hours studying the relationship between the immune system and the skin. Immunodermatologists focus on immune-centered diseases such as contact dermatitis and eczema, they seek to unveil how immunity works on various skin conditions and its reaction to treatment. Due to their study’s nature, they spend a lot of time in the labs carrying out multiple tests and analyzing the body’s response.
They are also responsible for identifying treatment plans for immune-related skin diseases and work to see whether their recommendations create a difference. Through their research and study, other dermatologists can better understand skin conditions and rely on their research to provide definitive treatment to patients suffering from recurring skin conditions or those with no known cure. Immunodermatologists also play a crucial role in identifying new medication. They carry out research to test the immune system and skin reaction to different drugs, improving the market’s number of treatment solutions.
Teledermatologists use the internet to render their service to their patients. They carry out examinations and provide treatment through the internet, making it easy for patients to schedule an appointment and meet their doctors from the comfort of their homes. Teledermatologists give you a chance to get quality health care distance, notwithstanding. You can talk to a doctor miles away and get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan in real-time.
Teledermatologists play a vital role in helping more people access their services and are excellent, especially for a second opinion. For example, if you visit your primary physician and the diagnosis is a skin condition, you can enlist a Teledermatologists to help you get treatment. Teledermatologists also makes it easy to access follow up visit. Instead of frequently visiting the hospital, you can use their services to reduce the number of trips you take to the hospital.
What is the training process to become a dermatologist?
The training process of becoming a dermatologist is summarized in nine steps this include;
- Getting a bachelor’s degree
- Complete the MCAT
- Go to medical school
- Pass USMLE Step 1 and Step 2
- Complete your residency
- Pass USLME Step 3
- Get a license
- Become Board Certified
Getting a Bachelor’s Degree
Dermatology is one of the highly competitive medical wings. It thus requires many years of training and education to master the field. The first process in becoming a dermatologist is pursuing an undergraduate course that takes four years. You should also major in scientific subjects such as biology, organic and general chemistry, physics, math, and biochemistry, depending on the school you wish to apply to.
Pass the MCAT
MCAT is a Medical College Admission Test. The test lasts about seven and a half hours, covering psychology, chemistry, biology, and critical analysis sections. You must take and perform well in this test during your junior year of college (unless you plan to take a gap year) to stand an acceptance chance to medical school.
Go to Medical School
Once done with the undergraduate course, you must then attend a four-year course from an accredited medical school. Your first two years in the school will entail a lot of classwork and laboratory sessions to ground you in the practice of primary medicine.
During your third and fourth year, you will get a chance to go for clinical rotations and study alongside experienced doctors working with actual patients. The admission process of medical school is highly competitive; thus, to get in, you must have a strong GPA and maintain high academic performance throughout your academic work in medical school.
Pass the First Two Parts of USMLE
To qualify as a dermatologist, you must take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. The first exam is done after your second year of study, while the second one is done just before your fourth year’s commencement. Getting a high score in both exams is mandatory to secure a dermatology residency.
Complete Your Residency
The competition for getting a dermatological residency is relatively high. You must have performed quite highly in your USMLE exams to qualify for your residence, as a third of students who apply do not get selected. A dermatological residency takes at least four years. In your first year of residency, you work as an intern in general surgery or internal medicine, helping you gain experience without placing excessive performance pressure on you and giving you time to learn more under experienced physicians. You then spend your next three years in clinical residency dermatology, learning and working closely with experienced dermatologists.
Pass the Third USMLE
Once you complete your residency, you need to take the third part of the USMLE test and pass it to practice in the United States. It is the last test before you acquire all rights to practice as a dermatologist once licensed.
Get a License
Once you have passed your final test and are done with your residency, take time and go through the license checklist of the state you want to work in. Make sure your application meets these criteria, then apply for your license. You can also compare how long a permit takes to be cleared in different states if you have not made up your mind on which state you want to work in.
Become Board Certified
In order to show your commitment and increase your income potential, it is essential to get board certification. Board certification requires;
• Having an M.D. from a certified medical school
• Have a valid and updated dermatology license
• Pass the standardized ABOD examination
• Complete a fellowship in a specific area of dermatology
• Renew board certification every ten years
Though the board certification is not required for one to practice after they complete a residency, taking the board exam by the American Board of Dermatology provides you with better job prospects.
Dermatologists can then opt to take part in a subspecialty through taking part in a fellowship. Fellowships usually take between a year to two years. They provide an opportunity to carry out extensive research work with a renowned dermatologist on their coursework and learn more about a particular field of dermatology. By taking part in a fellowship, you give yourself added credentials that provide you with more job opportunities and properly handle different dermatological cases.
The typical work of dermatologists sees them spend most of their time in the outpatient section of clinics and hospitals. Occasionally dermatologists may do rounds to care for patients suffering from different skin infections in the inpatient section or work with other physicians on special treatment courses that require their expertise.
The dermatologist also works closely with other physicians such as oncologists and plastic surgeons, especially on patients with skin cancer conditions who may require a lot of skin grafting or more invasive treatment types. Due to their vast knowledge of the skin, they pair perfectly with plastic surgeons to offer top-notch treatment to such patients.
Dermatologists’ job is typically an 8-5 job. It means that their line of duty is less demanding than the other types of physicians and, in most cases, do not have to spend their weekends on call.
What You Will Love About Dermatology
Dermatology is one of the medical disciplines that receive the highest number of intake applications. Due to the nature of work, it is the one field that provides medical physicians control over their life. Unlike other areas of medicine, dermatologists usually have a typical 8-5 job. They also receive fewer calls and have flexible work conditions. It also gives them more control of their lives and provides them a work balance unheard of in the medical field.
Compared to other physicians’ dermatologists enjoy less paperwork and administrative duties that play a significant role in freeing up their time. The less paperwork also means they do not have to spend too much time in the hospital.
Dermatology also provides you an opportunity to make people feel good about themselves. Thus, you can meet many patients every day and meet their primary aim of feeling good about themselves. The field enables you to make this a reality by performing corrective surgeries on your patients. Thus, this field has a significant impact on how you help your patient feel about themselves, rewarding most physicians. Also, Dermatologists are among the most paid physicians in the medical field, earning about 400,000 dollars a year, which is great for a regular working job.
What You Will Not Love About Dermatology
Though it is a fantastic field, dermatology is not perfect. Its first downside is its competitive nature brought by limited residency opportunities available. It is also competitive because of the limited number of dermatologists required; thus, as much as you may like the course, the rigorous training and high GPA needed to pursue this specialty make it extremely demanding.
Due to its competitive nature, you will have to spend a lot of time in medical school then carry out dermatological research and prove to various boards and school admission boards why they need to give you an opportunity. All this pressure may be extreme to some individuals, and the amount of time required may seem longer.
People also misunderstand the work of dermatologists, thinking their work is providing cosmetic surgeries. Other surgeons do not take dermatologists seriously as they feel your work is only skin-related. Due to the nature of the job, you may need to collaborate with several different physicians and surgeons. It means you frequently have to work in a team and answer to other surgeons or physicians that may not be ideal for physicians who prefer to work alone.
Your treatment and work course are also heavily dependent on other people’s decisions, which may take time or impact your service quality. You will also spend so much time in the outpatient section giving you less time with your patients due to the clinics’ fast-paced schedule. Also, patients do not get to come in often, making it a hurdle to foster a meaningful relationship with them. If you love to spend time with your patients and get to know them well, this may hinder that chance.
Keys to Becoming a Successful Dermatologist
Due to the field’s competitive nature, you must have impressive academic qualifications and pass in school to succeed and get a slot. You must also have an inner strength and need to achieve that will push you to do well in the various required tests or your board exams done every ten years once accepted.
Like any other medical course, the number of hours required in the education, training, and residency is demanding. You must thus have the stamina that can keep you grounded through the long hours. You must also have an eye for detail and be able to withstand the long hours of surgery. Some surgeries will not only take a lot of time. They will also require you to have excellent hand skills throughout the procedure; thus, having stamina is essential.
Most dermatologic conditions are due to underlying medical history. Thus, a dermatologist must know how to correctly interview a patient and ask precise questions that will enable them to gather accurate patient history. They must also be keen to listen to the patient to interpret what they say and what they mean correctly.
By having excellent communication skills, you can talk to patients without making them feel interrogated and get all the required details giving you a comprehensive patient history required to diagnose and treat patients.
Ability to Withstand Bodily Functions
Due to the extensive nature of skin conditions, some may be unsightly or unpleasant to see. They may also emit uncomfortable smells or involve a lot of blood contact. As a dermatologist, you must be comfortable with such instances and comfortably treat your patients without appearing awkward.
Dermatologists work more as consultants that means you will have to work with other physicians in helping patients. A dermatologist must thus possess the skill of being a team player allowing them to professionally work with different physicians to offer quality health care to their patients. You must be willing to listen to the other physicians and use their input in adequately diagnosing and recommending medication for your patients.
Strong Interpersonal Skills
Due to the constant interaction with patients and other physicians, as a dermatologist, you need to possess strong interpersonal skills that will enable your comfortable work with different physicians and properly foster a healthy relationship with your patients. Some skin conditions may require a frequent visit to the patient. You thus must be able to make your patients feel comfortable and encourage them to stay faithful to their appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most frequently asked questions as far as dermatology is concerned include;
How long does it take to become a dermatologist?
To become a dermatologist, you need to finish four years of an undergraduate program, four years of medical school, and four years of residency. It makes it 12 years of a post of postgraduate secondary education one must achieve before being fully licensed and accepted to work as a dermatologist. Also, you must pass the required test in the various years of study to gain certification.
Where do dermatologists work?
Dermatologists can choose to work for health care facilities such as hospitals and clinics. They can also opt to start their businesses or facilities seeing patients independently. Either way, like any other physicians, they spend time seeing patients in the clinics and carrying out various examination tests to help them diagnose and prescribe treatments.
Dermatologists can also work in private and government labs—the work in these areas identifying the different types of skin conditions that exist and analyzing treatment procedures. A dermatologist who works in labs also focuses on getting other treatments useful in combating different skin conditions.
What hours do dermatologists work?
Dermatologists work regular hours from 8-5. They may, however, choose to see patients in the evenings to accommodate their client’s schedule.
Dermatology is among the most flexible fields of medicine. You not only get a chance to have control over your work and personal life but put smiles on people’s faces. By working as a dermatologist, you get to work with the body’s largest organ, which is the skin. You will also enjoy working with other physicians, making it a highly collaborative wing of medicine.
However, it would help if you were willing to put in a lot of work to emerge top in your academic work to get admission or residency in this field. Thus, hard work is still required to enable you to succeed. You can start improving your chances today by applying to one of International Medical Aid internship programs.