The job responsibilities of a dermatologist include diagnosing and treating disorders related to the skin, hair, and nails. For the purpose of diagnosis, he may draw skin, tissue, or blood samples and test them. Based on the test results, he administers the required treatment in the form of medications, radiotherapy, or surgery. In addition to this, he also performs aesthetic procedures for those patients who wish to improve their skin. The various cosmetic procedures that dermatologists perform as treatments include laser therapy, dermabrasion, botox injections or collagen injections, plastic surgery, etc.
Bachelor’s Degree: A four-year Bachelor’s degree with a major in either of the three – biology, chemistry, or physics is required.
Medical Degree: Dermatologists fall under the category of physicians, so they attend medical school to obtain a four-year medical degree (M.D or D.O).
Residency Program: After obtaining the medical degree, dermatologists have to complete a three-year accredited residency training program. The first year of the residency program includes emergency medicine, internal medicine, family practice, general surgery, gynecology, and obstetrics or pediatrics. The next two years focuses on dermatology-specific courses like biochemistry, dermatology, physiology, keratinocytes, melanocytes, skin signs of HIV infection, pathophysiology of UV irradiation, etc. They are also trained on record keeping, counseling of patients, and diagnostic testing. Specializations in dermatology are available in the fields of immunodermatology, cosmetic dermatology, dermatopathology, veterinary and pediatric dermatology.
After completion of the residency program, a license has to be obtained to become a practicing dermatologist. For this, dermatologists have to qualify the three steps of the USMLE exam. They also have to pass the Board Certification test conducted by the American Board of Dermatology. Re-certification is required after every ten years.
Dermatologists work in clinics, hospitals, and health care facilities. They also find employment as lecturers in medical colleges. They are also in great demand in clinical research facilities, which also helps them complete a MD.
Earnings and Benefits
The estimated average salary of a dermatologist is USD 235,178 in the US. Self-employed dermatologists manage their benefits by setting their consultation and treatment fees, but the salaried ones enjoy benefits like paid holidays, insurance, retirement plans, etc.
Dermatology is a fast emerging field owing to the rapid growth of the healthcare industry. It has been predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the scope for dermatologists is going to be vast in the coming decade. Those who wish to take it up as a career should have a friendly approach, sensitivity towards the needs of patients, and most importantly, passion and zeal towards the profession.