Most aspiring medical students are curious to know what it takes to be a dermatologist and how they can become one. Like most medical specialties are completely certified physicians holding a license to practice medicine and have earned either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) Degree.
As a field in medicine, dermatology has a lot to offer; happy & satisfied patients, low stress when compared to other medical specialties, and consistent working hours. Let’s now read more to see what it means to specialize in dermatology and what dermatologists do.
A dermatologist – what are they?
Dermatologists are doctors specializing in treating diseases and conditions which are related to the skin. Though skin conditions can be the primary focus for them, they also treat conditions affecting the hair and nails.
They can specialize in specific aspects of the field of dermatology, selecting to focus more on communicable diseases, conditions, cosmetic procedures, skin cancers or research, etc.
How long does it take for a person to become a dermatologist?
Upon completing high school, it typically takes 9 to 11 years to become a dermatologist. Most aspiring dermatologists should attend around 4 years of an undergraduate degree program or a premed (which can prepare them for St. Kitts medical school).
Upon graduation, they can attend a medical school which can take 4 years. Upon graduation from medical school, all graduating dermatologists need to complete at least 1 year of residency, but residency could be as long as 3 years. This is fully dependent on the chosen subspecialty.
What do dermatologists do?
They treat patients having a wide array of skin conditions and diseases. They routinely examine patients in diagnosing conditions/diseases and discuss with them a proper plan for treatment. Some patients are dealing with severe conditions (like cancer and serious degree burns) whereas other patients come in for cosmetic treatments.
A dermatologist must be able to triage appropriately, giving their complete attention to patients in need of timely treatment.
In addition to routine appointments of patients, they also conduct a diverse range of procedures and treatments. Some of them focus solely on cosmetic work, whereas others perform more disease-focused testing and treatment.
They can also work in laboratory settings conducting research on allergies & skin cancers, cutting edge treatments, and more. The specific direction and scope of a dermatologist’s career start with the choice to specialize in while studying in medical school and in residency.
Subspecialties of Dermatology
As reported by the American Board of Dermatology, physicians can officially be certified in the following subspecialties of dermatology:
- Dermatopathology: Dermatologists specializing in this field focus on diagnosing and treating skin diseases, including infections, immunological disorder, and various skin cancers and weight loss in 30 days. They also receive special training in gathering and examining tissue samples and skin scrapings to aid in the process of disease diagnosis.
- Pediatric Dermatology: Pediatricians work specifically with society’s youngest members – Children. These physicians are no exception because pediatric dermatologists specialize in diagnosing skin disorders and diseases that affect children more than adults. Among the conditions treated are diaper rashes, acne, and the like.
- Micrographic Dermatological Surgery: Micrographic surgery is a specialized method used to treat certain types of skin cancers. In this surgery, progressive layers of cancer tissue are surgically removed and examined thoroughly until all cancerous tissues are removed. These specialists also receive specialized training in treating and diagnosing complex skin cancers as well as perform reconstructive surgery on people upon removal of skin cancers.
Which conditions are treated by dermatologists?
Dependent on the kind of specialty training received, a dermatologist can treat a variety of conditions in patients which are as under:
- Hair loss.
- Athlete’s foot.
- Skin Cancer.
- Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac.
What procedures do dermatologists perform?
Dermatologists perform a wide array of tests and treatments, ranging from cosmetic procedures used in concealing scars and removing moles to complex tissue samples used to check for cancers. They are colloquially defined as skin doctors and can perform any of the following procedures:
- Hair removal.
- Hair restoration.
- Scar and stretch mark treatment methods.
- Chemical peels.
- Cosmetic injections.
- Skin grafts.
- Micrographic surgery.
- Allergy tests.
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