A dermatologist is a specialist who provides diagnoses and treatments for disorders of the skin, nails, hair, and related mucous membranes. Dermatologists treat children and adults, who may be struggling with issues, such as acne, infections, hereditary disorders, cancers, and other cosmetic issues (scarring, aging, tattoo removal, hair loss, etc.).
Why Become A Dermatologist
Dermatologists help people feel better about their appearances and maintain dermal health. They can treat and help prevent dangerous diseases, like cancers, and improve the overall quality of life for their patients. One of the more rewarding aspects of dermatology is that it is a diverse medical specialty, which offers challenging and ever-evolving work. All age groups and cultures require the dermatological services, so an aspiring dermatologist can practice anywhere.
The majority of dermatologists work in outpatient facilities, typically in private practice (solo or group). Some may work in hospitals, either fulltime, or only for surgeries and other clinical evaluations. Research is always needed for this field, so those who train and acquire dermatological education may become clinical researchers, working in a laboratory or academic setting.
This field is less demanding than most other medical and cosmetic professions. The average work week for a dermatologist will most likely be between 30 and 40 hours. Working conditions are typically comfortable, as dermatologists spend relatively little time on their feet. Researchers or professors may spend more time working than practicing dermatologists.
According to a Medscape poll, the median annual salary for a dermatologist in 2012 was $238,000. It is one of the best salaries of all medical providers. Dermatologists in the United States can earn anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 annually. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does note that the median annual salary was $187,000 in May 2013. This statistic takes into account all dermatological subspecialties, which include pediatric medicine and family practice, which make a great deal less than those in radiology or cosmetic fields. Also, those in laboratory or academic settings will most likely receive less compensation because of their place of employment.
Those working in California and Hawaii will most likely receive the most compensation, while those working in the south central U.S. will make the least.
Dermatologist Career Outlook
From 2012-2022, the U.S. BLS claims an 18% job growth for this profession, for both physicians and surgeons. Medical professions are always in demand, although some specialties and subspecialties may wax and wane.
Since skin cancer rates have steadily risen, this subspecialty is in high demand. Dermatology is considered a quality of life field, so the demand of its field will be high above most other professions.
Ultimately, a dermatologist will need to obtain a medical degree, and complete a one-year internship and three-year residency. It is a highly competitive field and securing a residency is of equal challenge.
Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree program. A degree in sciences is recommended, and pre-medical school courses are encouraged. These courses include biology, organic chemistry, physics, and chemistry. Depending on the intended medical school, it may also be optimal to complete coursework in mathematics and biochemistry.
Step 2: Complete a medical school program, either becoming a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). It is essential to maintain excellent marks throughout undergraduate and graduate studies. During medical school, students will complete Step 1 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which requires a high score to secure a dermatology residency.
Step 3: Complete a one-year internship. Every practicing doctor must complete a one-year internship after completing medical school. Those wishing to become dermatologists will most likely intern in the following fields: internal medicine, general surgery, family medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics.
Step 4: Complete a three-year residency. After completing a one-year internship, a doctor may wish to compete for a three-year dermatology residency program. Not many positions exist, so it is important maintain excellent quality of care during an internship. In residency programs, doctors will examine patients, learn to diagnose and treat dermatological diseases (more than 3,000 existing), and receive hands-on training to perform dermatological and other surgical procedures.
Step 5: Obtain a license to practice and become board certified. After successfully completing a dermatological residency, it is necessary to pass the Dermatology Board Examination, administered by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD). It is optional to continue educational and practical experience through a fellowship and a relevant Subspecialty Board Examination through the ABD.
A dermatologist must continue professional development through continuing medical education (CME) and pass the board examination every ten years.