An increasingly popular medical specialization, dermatology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of ailments involving the skin, hair and nails. Dermatologists are trained to treat a wide range of skin conditions including cancers, rashes, moles, acne, and scars.
In this role, they commonly identify the cause of a patient’s condition through a process of examination and diagnosis. They then prescribe a treatment plan that may include a variety of procedures such as injections, chemical peels, laser therapy, surgical excision under local or general anesthesia, etc.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a dermatologist and what it takes to become one yourself.
Dermatologist Job Duties
Dermatologists are responsible for the following:
- Diagnosing and treating skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and fungal infections
- Performing biopsies and removing moles and growths, including cancerous ones
- Assessing patients’ risk of developing skin cancer or other serious conditions like melanoma based on patient history, family history, and current condition
- Conducting cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, chemical peels, and laser hair removal
- Providing basic skincare recommendations to patients to prevent disease or reduce the risk of scarring or other negative effects of skin damage
- Writing prescriptions for medication to help heal wounds
- Conducting research on new skin treatments and post-treatment care protocols to encourage best practices in the field
Dermatologist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for dermatologists is $265,355. The highest earners make over $670,000. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private practice as opposed to hospitals.
Demand for dermatologists is expected to grow steadily over the next decade. As the population ages, there will be a greater need to diagnose and treat skin disorders. In addition, as people continue to spend more time outdoors and enjoy outdoor activities, they will need dermatologists to treat issues that result from such activities.
Dermatologist Job Requirements
The requirements for a dermatologist are as follows:
Dermatologists must earn a medical degree, which takes four years to complete. During this time, they complete coursework in areas like human genetics, biochemistry, pharmacology and anatomy. They also complete clinical training, where they can gain valuable experience in treating patients.
Training: After graduating from medical school, dermatologists must complete an internship and residency program, which takes three years to complete. Throughout this process, dermatologists learn how to diagnose and treat skin conditions under the supervision of a licensed dermatologist.
Certifications & Licenses: All dermatologists must obtain a license to practice. These licenses are generally obtained through state boards and require candidates to pass an exam
In addition to medical education and training, dermatologists require the following skills:
Compassion and empathy: Because many dermatology patients are self-conscious about their appearance, dermatologists must be sensitive, supportive, and tactful when dealing with them.
Interpersonal skills: Dermatologists need strong interpersonal skills to effectively interact with patients of all ages. They must also be able to communicate clearly and concisely with patients and other medical professionals.
Research skills: Dermatologists must be able to follow scientific literature in order to stay up-to-date on new treatments. They will need to research new treatments and therapies in order to provide patients with the most up-to-date care.
Dedication to continuing education: Dermatologists need an understanding of medical terminology, and they need to keep up with continuing education programs to stay knowledgeable in their field.
Organizational skills: Dermatologists should be organized in order to manage multiple patient files and keep accurate records of patient information, treatment, allergies, etc.
Critical thinking skills: Dermatologists must be able to think critically when considering treatment options for skin conditions. They need to consider the possible side effects of medications or procedures before prescribing them.
Dermatologist Work Environment
Dermatologists typically work in a private office setting with a variety of patients, from infants to the elderly. They may treat patients with skin cancer or other diseases. As a result, they often deal with pain and death.
Surgical procedures are common in this field, which means that sometimes dermatologists will have to spend time in the operating room or recovery room.
Most dermatologists work full time. Because of the late hours they keep, this occupation can be stressful and tiring. They may also have to travel to visit patients in their home settings.
Dermatologist Career Advancement
A dermatologist with a few years of experience in the field has the opportunity to specialize in a particular area. For example, a dermatologist may focus on treating skin cancer, warts, or another condition.
Dermatologists who want to advance their careers may consider taking on a leadership role in their practice or in the medical community at large. They might sit on committees at their medical school or work with the American Academy of Dermatology to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention techniques.
Here are three trends influencing how dermatologists work. Dermatologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Cancer detection is a rising trend in the field of dermatology as more people are getting skin cancer screenings to catch skin cancer early. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year alone.
This rising trend has led to a greater demand for dermatologists who can effectively screen for and diagnose skin cancer as well as perform routine procedures, such as biopsies and excisions, to treat this condition.
Increasing Demand for Cosmetic Dermatology
Cosmetic dermatology is a rapidly growing field with a number of potential career opportunities. In fact, a recent study found that dermatologists were among the highest paid doctors in the country.
In addition to those who specialize in cosmetic dermatology, there are also those who focus on aesthetic treatments as well as those who work as general practitioners.
Use of lasers
Laser treatments are becoming increasingly popular among dermatologists for their ability to remove or destroy problematic skin growths, such as moles and warts.
The use of lasers in the medical field is expected to continue growing in the coming years as patients look for more convenient and less invasive options than traditional surgical procedures.
How to Become a Dermatologist
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re interested in becoming a dermatologist, it’s important to consider the educational requirements of this position. Becoming a doctor requires several years of schooling and training. Aspiring dermatologists should ensure that they are ready for such a commitment before applying to medical school. You will also need excellent grades during your undergraduate studies in order to be accepted into the program.
Some medical schools offer specialized programs for dermatology. Applicants for these programs can take classes at their university and gain hands-on experience at affiliated hospitals and clinics. Other schools offer standard tracks that include dermatology electives. Though this option is less intensive, it offers fewer opportunities for clinical experience.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for dermatologists show that you have a successful track record of treating patients and deliver concrete outcomes. Emphasize your ability to diagnose skin problems, connect with patients and work in a team.
It’s important to list any certifications you have along with your years of experience as a physician. It’s also beneficial to mention if you have a specialization in a certain type of skin condition since this will help employers quickly identify your suitability for the position they’re hiring for. While detailing your work history, include specific details such as what procedures you performed and what technologies you used.
3. Applying for Jobs
Getting a job as a dermatologist can be tricky because you have to start with a medical school degree. Once you’ve earned your MD, your first step to finding employment is applying for dermatology residency programs. You will need to put together a strong portfolio of letters of recommendation and past work experiences, plus compile your grades and test scores. It’s important to make sure you apply to programs that fit your experience level; some medical schools offer pre-residency programs to help you get ready for the real thing. Once you’re accepted into a program, it’s time to study up on the specifics of dermatology, then work hard to become one of the best!
Once residency is complete, continue to network and join professional associations like the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You can also sign up for email alerts at career sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com.
4. Ace the Interview
You should be well prepared to respond to questions about your education and previous work experience. You will also need to answer questions regarding your general competency in a medical setting. Be sure to come prepared with positive responses when asked about these types of situations.
A good way to prepare for this type of interview is to think about your own experiences with doctors or medical professionals. Did they seem interested in you as a person? Was it easy to communicate with them? Did they make you feel comfortable?
Be ready to handle questions about personal traits during the interview. Explain why you have the ability to build relationships with your patients and help them understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Your interviewer will want to be sure that you can put the patient first at all times.