A Career in Dermatology: Advantages and Specialities
Dermatology was once considered a “lightweight” specialty, but is now recognized as being critical to people’s well-being. Cosmetics, industrial compounds, and pesticides continually present new dermatological problems. The increased outdoor work and leisure time of people today have increased their exposure to the sun and other hazards that can cause skin problems. Family doctors will refer patients to a dermatologist if irregular moles are found during a physical exam, if skin is irritated or inflamed and standard treatments have not worked, or if an unsuccessful treatment has caused further complications.
In certain parts of the world, like Australia, dermatologists spend much of their time treating conditions resulting from exposure to the sun, such as malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. In other regions, dermatologists are more likely to encounter cosmetic problems such as moles, hair and nail disorders, occupational dermatitis, psoriasis, skin infections, acne, hand dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea. Dermatologists can also provide assistance with cosmetic issues such as wrinkles, age spots, hair loss, and scars. Some dermatologists perform minor cosmetic procedures like face lifts, liposuction, and blepharoplasty, a surgical modification of the eyelid.
Most skin conditions can be treated with topical therapy such as lotions and creams. The surgical procedures dermatologists must learn the injection of fillers and botulinum toxin (botox) to give a patient a more youthful appearance at the expense of facial mobility, cryotherapy, and other procedures to remove common skin growths such as warts, excision, and skin and nail biopsies where the patient is awake and small amounts of tissue are removed to facilitate diagnosis. As is true for most medical disciplines, there are several specialities within dermatology:
1. Cosmetic dermatology
This aspect of dermatology which focuses on the patient’s appearance is sometimes defined as the one which emphasizes ‘looking good.’ Cosmetic dermatologists are trained in the use of fillers, botox, and laser surgery. Their practice is generally limited to minimally invasive procedures such as face lifts, surgery to diminish scars, liposuction, and blepharoplasty (surgical repair or reconstruction of an eyelid).
A dermatopathologist is a pathologist or dermatologist who specialises in the science of the causes and effects of diseases of the skin. A dermatopathology fellowship includes six months of general pathology and six months of dermatopathology.
The focus of immunodermatology is the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders distinguished by defective responses of the body’s immune system. In other words, the goal of an immunodermatologist is to understand how the body’s immune system works with the skin. Because the skin is the most exterior part of the body it is constantly assaulted by chemicals, micro-organisms, and other foreign materials. The Immunodermatology Laboratory is dedicated to understanding how the immune system in the skin protects us.
4. Mohs surgery
Developed in 1938 by general surgeon Frederic E. Mohs and also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, Mohs surgery is an extremely precise procedure which involves the progressive removal of layers of cancerous skin until only cancer-free tissue remains.
5. Pediatric dermatology
Dermatologists qualify for this specialization by completing dual residencies in pediatrics and dermatology or by completing a post-residency fellowship. This specialization focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases affecting infants, children, and adolescents. In pediatric dermatology particular attention is paid to the specific physiological and developmental issues of the pediatric population. Among these issues are acne, birthmarks, warts, and genetic skin diseases.
In the field of teledermatology, audio, visual, and data telecommunication technologies are used to exchange medical information. This allows non-dermatologists to obtain evaluations by off-site dermatologists. The speciality provides for the viewing of skin conditions over large distances and establishes second opinion networks for patients with chronic skin conditions.
The workplace of a Dermatologist
Because of the increasing rate of skin-related diseases in recent years, dermatological therapies have been revolutionized by new drugs, laser treatment, photodynamic therapy, and ultraviolet light therapy. That being said, dermatologists are still in high demand and their work environment can be very busy. At the hospital, they offer general consultation and treat in-patients who have various skin-related diseases.
Dermatologists can decide to work in private practice or public hospitals. They can also provide training for general medical practitioners, teach at a university, or run clinical trials in a research lab. It is not uncommon for cosmetic dermatologists to complement their practice with either a medical spa or in-office sales of spa products. Medical spas generally offer facials, manicures, pedicures, and body wraps.
The decision around the selling of spa products is often more delicate, considering the vast array of available products and the potential claims made by their marketers. To uphold their fiduciary duties toward their patients and to avoid any conflict of interest, it is generally recommended that physicians set up their clinics in such a way that separates the dermatology aspect of their practice from any onsite peripheral services and sales.
Why Should you choose a career in Dermatologist?
When you enter into the field of dermatology you can expect to reap rewards such as an extremely good paycheque and a work schedule that doesn’t have you tied to a desk for hours on end. However, obtaining a medical degree in dermatology is a very long process and extremely competitive.
If you think you’d love to learn about the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair and nails and would enjoy helping people regain their self-esteem, then dermatology may be a good career to consider. As with any profession, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide to commit to it.
Advantages of a career in Dermatologist include:
- In demand career
- Exceptional work schedule compared to other medical careers
- Salary between $200,000-$500,000 per year
- Variety (dermatologists are trained in surgical & non-surgical procedures)
- Innovative and ever-changing treatments
- Great career for those who are friendly and have a good bedside manner
- Good for individuals that have compassion
- Flexibility of practice offers balance between career and personal life
- Income opportunities available outside of typical patient care
- Being able to have significant impact on psychological well-being of patients
- Most cases are not emergencies or time sensitive (like other medical careers)