Before beginning your educational career to becoming a dermatologist, you need to determine if it’s the right career for you. You’ll usually work in a private office instead of a hospital to treat patients who have various skin conditions. You could also have to perform minor procedures in the office that involve lancing various areas of the skin. As a dermatologist, you could work with all ages from babies to elderly adults. You should be able to listen to your patients so that you have a good understanding of the issue that’s presented and the best way to treat the issue while also being able to work with various areas of the body since the skin is everywhere.
The First Degree
After deciding that you want to be a dermatologist, you’ll need to enroll in a four-year school to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While in school, you want to focus on taking pre-med classes that include anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics. Math is another subject that you’ll want to take while you’re in school. You want to look at the medical schools that you’re considering to see exactly what they require as some might need more classes than others before you’re accepted.
Off to Medical School
The next step after obtaining your bachelor’s degree is to apply for medical school. This type of school is often limited on the number of admissions that it can take throughout your state, so you should try to apply as early as possible to the schools that offer a dermatology program. Most schools will require you to take a Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to determine whether or not you would be a good fit in the programs that are offered. Try to maintain a high GPA as this is something that’s looked at by medical schools as well as your MCAT score and other test scores. Keep in mind that getting into medical school can be competitive due to the limited number of spaces.
Being a Resident
When you’ve finished medical school, you’ll begin your residency in dermatology. This will usually last for a year and typically involves working with a general surgeon or an internist so that you can get more information about the human body and how to complete various procedures. You’ll then begin a dermatology residency that can last for about three years. This is when you’ll be in an office or another facility with a dermatologist who guides you as to how to treat patients. When the chief resident or the attending feels that you’re ready to see patients on your own, then you’ll usually be allowed to handle a minor caseload during a shift to see who you perform.
Closer to Practicing
In order to get more practice in the field of dermatology, you might decide to obtain more training by completing a fellowship. This is usually one to two years and often looks at a detailed area of study, which is beneficial if you’re thinking about pursuing a career in a dermatology subset, such as phototherapy, cosmetic surgery, or immunodermatology. This is usually the last step before you’re ready to practice on your own or with a partner so that your career can begin.
Completing the Paperwork
If you want to work as a dermatologist, then you’re going to need to get your license to practice in your state and work to maintain that license. You’ll sit for the Dermatology Board Examination to see how much information you retained from school and from your residency and fellowship training. If you pass, then you’ll be considered board-certified, which can then lead to obtaining other certifications. You’ll need to re-take the exam every 10 years in order to maintain your license and certification. You also need to meet other requirements that pertain to medical education as dictated by your state so that you can practice. These examinations will need to be taken during your career until you retire. Some states might require other types of tests that need to be taken before you can practice there. If you plan to move, then this is something that you want to look into as you don’t want to begin practicing without the proper approval.