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Dermatologist Duties and Responsibilities

From our analysis of job postings, here are some of the core responsibilities of dermatologists:

Evaluate Patients The primary responsibility of dermatologists is to evaluate the skin conditions of their patients. This requires a methodical attention to detail and an extensive knowledge of both common and rare skin diseases. Dermatologists usually dictate their analysis to a digital recorder to analyze at a later time.

Analyze Patient Medical History Dermatologists analyze a patient's medical history while they review their initial evaluation of the patient. They use the combination of this information to determine if more extensive diagnostic tests are needed or which medications can be prescribed to treat the patient's conditions.

Refer Patients to Other Specialists as Needed Even though dermatologists are specialists, they still have to refer patients to other specialists from time to time. This could include referring patients for specialized diagnostic testing or to another dermatologist who specializes in certain skin conditions.

Participate in Professional Development Opportunities Like any other medical doctor, dermatologists have to keep their knowledge fresh. This involves attending seminars and conferences, as well as conducting clinical research.

Prescribe Medications and Provide Skin Therapy Treatments If dermatologists can diagnose patient conditions without further testing, they provide treatment. For some conditions, this means the application of skin therapy treatments. For most common ailments, this means prescribing medications.


Dermatologist Skills

The role of a dermatologist is a highly technical position that requires a plethora of specialized knowledge. Dermatologists have to be experts in basic immunology, clinical pharmacology, cutaneous microanatomy and biology, the skin, and subcutaneous tissue anatomy. They must be passionate to stay current on the latest information regarding these areas of knowledge. Problem solvers, good dermatologists also need humility to know when they can't solve a problem and need to refer a patient to a specialist. In addition, the following skills important:
  • Diagnosing skin conditions based on expertise in dermatology
  • Analyzing patient medical history as a part of the diagnostic process
  • Communicating with patients to help them understand their condition and possible treatments
  • Using knowledge of clinical pharmacology to prescribe medication to patients

Dermatologist Education and Training

Like any type of medical doctor, the education process for becoming a dermatologist is extensive. It takes 12 years to become a licensed dermatologist. One must have a bachelor's degree and 4 years of medical school with a degree. After serving a 1-year internship and passing all three parts of the USMLE, aspiring dermatologists perform a 3-year dermatology residency. Once they are licensed in their state, they are free to practice. Most go on to get board-certified, which involves specialization in a specific sub-niche of dermatology.

Dermatologist Salary

According to Payscale, the median salary for dermatologists is $240,139. The bottom 10 percent make below $89,396, while those in the top 10 percent make above $387,373.

Dermatologist Resources

If you think a career as a dermatologist is for you, check out the resources below:

American Academy of Dermatology - Founded in 1938, the American Academy of Dermatology now has a membership of more than 19,000 dermatologists. It has in-person seminars and online webinars for professional development.

American Society of Dermatology - Founded in 1992, the American Society of Dermatology is an organization dedicated to dermatologists who have their own practice.

DermWeb - DermWeb is a great website for students, dermatologists, and patients alike. It has articles, videos, and publications packed with great information.

Dermnet NZ - This website out of New Zealand is one of the most extensive online libraries of skin conditions, making it a great resource for dermatologists.

Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy - This book is an excellent diagnostic resource for dermatologists. It covers hundreds of conditions and treatments with color visualizations for each process.

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