Choosing a Career as a Dermatologist

March 25, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Everyone wants to love the skin they’re in, but sometimes, our body’s largest organ needs the help of a special doctor to function at peak performance.  Doctors who help you take care of your skin are called dermatologists. If you are interested in helping patients look and feel their best, a career in dermatology might just be right for you.

Education and Training Needed to Become a Dermatologist

Dermatologists are considered medical doctors, though the field often deals with a misconception that they are not due to the perception that the work of a dermatologist is simple when compared to other medical specialties. To become a dermatologist, you’ll need to complete four years of undergraduate study and apply to medical school.  Top medical schools known for their dermatology training programs include University of California San Francisco, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and New York University. After four years of medical school, you’ll be matched to a residency program and train for another five years. The American Academy of Dermatology provides multiple opportunities for you to obtain clinical experience before, during, and after medical school.  Ultimately, you will sit for your national exams to become a board certified dermatologist through the American Board of Dermatology.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Dermatologist

Dermatologists care for the skin, hair, and nails of their patients.  Because the skin is the body’s largest organ, dermatologists must be trained to diagnosis and treated hundreds of problems.  As a dermatologist, one of your primary tasks will be to screen patients for skin cancer, also known as melanoma.  You’ll also diagnose and treat more common skin conditions, such as fungal infection, psoriasis, Observing surgery close up!rashes, and warts.  Because our skin is covered in hair, you’ll help patients deal with both extremes in hair conditions, either loss or excess.  Medicines and pharmaceuticals will often be the tools of your trade, but you will also be responsible for surgical procedures as well. Depending on your subspecialty, you’ll be working with a wide variety of patients across all demographics.  Pediatric dermatology is a growing field. In addition, as a dermatologist, you’ll not only treat disease, but you’ll also be asked to provide aesthetic treatments as well, such as botox, collagen, mole removal, and other procedures that typically fall in the category of plastic surgery.

Salary and Career Outlook For Dermatologists

Dermatology is a very competitive medical specialty, and it is unfortunately one of the first to suffer during an economic downturn.  Often, seeking out a dermatologist, let along scheduling an appointment for cosmetic improvement with one of your area’s best dermatologists, is a medical appointment that many people skip due to the “luxury status” of the professional services these doctors render.  In addition, it is difficult to become an established dermatologist in a hospital setting, as patients seeking your services are not often admitted for extensive treatment.  Private practice as a dermatologist will allow you to work in a comfortable environment with predictable hours.  Depending on your location, you’ll earn a median annual salary of over $300,000 as a dermatologist.

If you like helping people look their best, and you are intrigued by the scientific side of beauty and healthy appearances, then a career in dermatology might be the right one for you! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.