A Dermatologist is a doctor who can treat diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive, minimally-invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods, such as using instruments, appliances, or by manual manipulation. They are the doctor you want to see if you have any skin problems since they specialize in treating the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.
Dermatologists diagnose and treat over 3,000 different diseases. The diseases include skin cancer, acne, psoriasis, nail infections, eczema, and many more. Dermatologists are highly specialized and trained healthcare professionals who work with and specialize in the largest organ of the body. Skin is the largest organ of the human body and is one of the most precious things that a human has in terms of their health and well-being. Skin conditions can become a major issue over time if left untreated, and Dermatologists help patients overcome some of the complications that might arise.
Dermatologists are responsible for treating a variety of skin ailments or serious conditions. They might be asked to assist with sunburns, rashes, or acne — or more serious conditions like skin cancer.
Some of the most common of the 3,000 different diseases or skin conditions that a Dermatologist treat require an extensive knowledge base. Dermatologists are asked to treat a wide variety of different internal conditions or skin symptoms that a patient might suffer from and each one requires different methodologies that they must be familiar with to effectively treat each one. Some of the most common skin conditions treated by a Dermatologist are treated below:
• Acne — one of the most common skin conditions that Dermatologists treat for patients is Acne. Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that patients suffer from and relates to the oil glands of a patient's skin. There are plenty of ways that acne can develop, but it is mainly responsible for a patient developing pimples on their skin.
Many patients will naturally develop Acne throughout their life, but it can develop into a serious condition that requires constant monitoring and care.
• Fungal Infections — Fungal infections can be caused by microscopic fungus that lives on dead tissue on a patient's skin. If the skin isn't properly cared for the fungus can develop over time and turn into an infection that causes peeling, itching, burning, blisters, and more.
• Vitiligo — the next skin condition that Dermatologists frequently treat is Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin condition in which the skin color tends to fade or lose pigmentation over time due to the skin that produces proper pigmentation does or stops functioning properly.
This causes a patient's skin to become white and have sharp margins between normal skin color and the skin that has lost its pigmentation.
• Dermatitis and Eczema — Dermatitis is one of the most popular skin conditions that affect millions of patients each year. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that might cause a rash to develop over time. Some of the key symptoms that a Dermatologist might assist a patient with include itchiness, reddening, discoloration, swelling, blisters, and more.
• Nails — Dermatologists can also help patients who might be suffering from a variety of nail issues. Sometimes nails can develop fungal infections or ingrown complications. Dermatologists are often asked to assist with potential nail issues because they can be an early sign of underlying conditions.
This condition can develop into something more serious if left untreated, and Dermatologists are often called in for preventive measures to ensure the patient gets care quickly.
• Psoriasis — Psoriasis is a skin condition in which the skin cells build up rapidly. Over time, this can develop into a red patch of skin, scaling spots, soreness, or dry cracked skin. Unfortunately, this skin condition cannot be cured and needs to be treated for an extended period of time with the management of the symptoms.
• Hair Disorders — Millions of americans each year are dealing with some form of hair loss. Dermatologists help patients overcome potential hair loss concerns from underlying conditions, hereditary hair loss, or serious conditions like alopecia. Dermatologists are able to determine potential hair loss causes and assist patients in dealing with their hair loss concerns.
• Rosacea — Rosacea is a skin condition in which patients suffer from redness or visible swollen and red bumps on their skin. Rosacea can cause facial redness from small blood vessels, small bumps from pimples that have developed, or enlarged noses from skin that has thickened.
• Shingles and Herpes — Shingles and herpes is caused by a viral infection that often causes a painful rash to develop. Shingles and herpes can develop into a burning rash that covers one section of the body, is sensitive to touch, causes itching, and might develop into fluid-filled blisters.
• Warts — A wart can develop from an infection on the skin. Most patients commonly deal with warts that appear on fingers, and some less common warts include genital warts, plantar warts, and flat warts. For most patients, warts go away on their own. For those patients who suffer from warts that aren't going away, a Dermatologist might be called upon to assist the patient with the chemical removal or surgical removal of warts.
• Skin Cancer — Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers for patients in the United States. There are several different forms of skin cancer that a patient might get, and Dermatologists are responsible for providing education and treatment about the different types of skin cancer that can potentially develop.
Part of a Dermatologist's job description is to educate and consult with patients about what steps they can take to achieve both healthy and attractive skin based on the skin conditions that they have. Dermatologists are tasked with identifying what potential ailments their patient could be suffering from when it comes to skin conditions, as it will dictate how they communicate with them and the plan they establish for effective care.
Dermatologists are also tasked with using a variety of medical tools and diagnostic devices that can help provide some insight into what the genetic makeup is for various skin tissue samples from a patient. Unfortunately, things might look like one thing and actually be another, which is why these devices are so powerful for Dermatologists.
Nearly all physician-based roles have specialties for their role, and Dermatologists are no different. There are several different career specializations that a Dermatologist can choose to go down which offer different focuses and opportunities to impact patients in a variety of ways.
• Cosmetic Dermatology
The first specialty for Dermatologists is Cosmetic Dermatology. Cosmetic Dermatology is the specialization that focus on helping patients undergo procedures that are related to their appearance and aesthetic of their skin, hair, or nails. These procedures are designed to help improve a patient's appearance through cosmetic treatments and procedures that alter a patient's features through such techniques like liposuction, botox, fillers, laser surgery, or skin resurfacing.
Dermatologists who specialize in cosmetic dermatology mainly perform minimally invasive procedures on patients.
The second specialty that Dermatologists can choose to specialize in is Teledermatology. This advanced form of Dermatology specializes in using technology and other forms of communication devices to assist other healthcare professionals with the identification and diagnosis of skin conditions, hair conditions, and nail conditions. Teledermatology focuses on allowing Dermatologist to communicate and interact with other healthcare professionals across the country using modern telemedicine and e-health devices to provide aid from any distance.
For those healthcare professionals who are passionate about working with patients from any remote location and have a passion in Dermatology, then specializing in Teledermatology is a potential option in your career.
• Pediatric Dermatology
Pediatric Dermatology is a specialization of Dermatology that focuses on working with children and combating some of the unique dermatology challenges that children might encounter. These particular challenges might include genetic skin diseases, birthmarks, acne, and warts. Children are unfamiliar with some of the major challenges that their skin conditions might cause them, so they will require specialized attention when it comes to educating them about their condition, treatment plan, and treatment outlook.
If you find that you're an exceptional communicator and enjoy working with children, Pediatric Dermatology is a fantastic specialization to consider.
• Mohs Surgery
The next specialization for Dermatologists relates to the removal of skin cancer, and is called Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery involves systematically removing layers of cancer-containing skin tissue that is examined and tested until cancer-free tissue is all that remains. This form of surgery is often referred to as Mohs micrographic surgery because of the nature of the priority to remove as minimal skin tissue as possible.
The next specialization that Dermatologists can specialize in is referred to as Dermatopathology. This specialization is the process of reasoning why certain skin diseases are caused and what effects they might have.
These Dermatologists are specialized healthcare professionals who study various samples from patients to identify potential reasons that a skin condition has developed over time. This specialty requires an additional year of specialized fellowship. Some Dermatologists are also responsible for completing additional training, formal education, or fellowships before they can officially begin working with patients on their own.
Dermatologists have a wide range of responsibilities throughout their role. To learn more about the responsibilities that a Dermatologist has, keep reading.
Dermatologists diagnose and treat different diseases. They also help to improve the appearance of their patients' skin, hair, and nails. Dermatologists help diminish signs of aging, decrease the appearance of scars, help treat acne, and diagnose and remove skin cancer.
Some of their responsibilities include:
Meeting with patients and evaluating their skin problems to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Must provide follow-up exams until the patients are cured. They must also determine how the treatment affected the patient and look for alternative options if they aren't responding to the treatment.
Perform surgeries to help people obtain their desired appearance.
Some dermatologists also specialize in the removal of skin cancer and offer these skin cancer surgeries to help patients rid themselves of cancer.
Many dermatologists also train other dermatologists and help them train other dermatologists. They play a part in continuing education for dermatologists to bring up others under the proper guidelines.
The first key responsibility for Dermatologists is to evaluate the patients under their care. This involves conducting skin evaluations to diagnose any potential medical conditions or skin conditions. In addition, these evaluations are designed to determine whether or not there is proper eligibility for cosmetic procedures that a patient might want to be done. Cosmetic procedures, as we've mentioned earlier, are some of the most common things that a Dermatologist is used for when it comes to a patient's skin.
The next responsibility that Dermatologists have is to potentially detect abnormalities or malignancies with their patients. These abnormality checks are designed to be proactive and provide preventive measures to ensure that a patient doesn't develop anything unnecessarily, or catches it early so it can be treated properly before it develops to a more serious condition.
Part of the evaluation of a patient also involves conducting and ordering biopsies to identify potential diseases or conditions, and then evaluate their treatment and therapy options based on what the biopsy says.
Getting a biopsy involves cutting away some skin cells from the patient and then testing it to ensure that the cells aren't cancerous in nature. Dermatologists are responsible for knowing which type of biopsy they should perform, as there are four different types of biopsy tests that can be conducted in regards to a patient's skin. The four different biopsy tests are: punch, excisional, shave, or incisional.
Once a Dermatologist has figured out the correct biopsy test to conduct and order, the next step and responsibility is to evaluate the biopsy test results. Evaluating the patient's test results is essential in making sure that the accurate treatment method is prescribed and directed.
The next key responsibility for Dermatologists is to analyze a patient's medical history. Through the analysis of a patient's medical history, Dermatologists can get a better understanding on whether or not the skin condition or skin ailment they are facing is a new problem or one they've been dealing with for quite some time.
Understanding whether or not a patient has developed a condition rapidly or if it's been something lingering for quite some time will also help them determine whether or not an intervention is required quickly or if it's something that should be monitored over time.
Part of analyzing a patient's medical history will involve conducting thorough interviews to identify if there is any other potential reason that a patient might have developed a skin condition. Some of these potential reasons include their routine, their genetic makeup, nutrition, and more. These things all have a potential impact on how a patient develops certain skin conditions, and understanding what a patient might be exposed to will help the overall treatment plan.
Another way in which a Dermatologist examines a patient's medical history is by reviewing any patient medical records that the patient might have brought with them as part of a request by the Dermatologist. This helps the Dermatologist determine if they've had any prior treatment elsewhere, if the medical condition was highlighted by a previous Physician, and more.
The next core responsibility that Dermatologists have is to prescribe medications to their patients. Many skin and cosmetic conditions that a patient might have don't require extensive surgery or undergoing a complicated procedure to solve or remedy the issue for the patient. Instead, there are plenty of medications or treatments that a Dermatologist can prescribe to help the patient overcome their ailment or monitor it properly over a longer period of time.
Dermatologists become familiar with the proper medication that is suitable for different skin conditions and ailments, and the different treatment options that the patient can have with different prescriptions. The key emphasis when prescribing prescriptions for a Dermatologist is to also know when the patient doesn't need them.
Unfortunately, in the modern medical world, it seems that every Physician feels the need to prescribe medications for every condition. Some conditions will go away over time, and a Dermatologist needs to know when prescriptions and medications are necessary, or if they're unnecessary based on the patient's habits and diagnosis.
Some of the common medications that Dermatologists could prescribe to their patients include hormonal treatments, antibiotics, creams, and more. In addition, Dermatologists can also prescribe different treatments or alternative techniques to assist the patient with getting healthy again.
The next responsibility that Dermatologists have to is to interact with patients and talk to them about their skin health. As we mentioned earlier, this will also largely involve educating them about their condition and why they might have it, and explain tot hem how it will ultimately impact their overall skin health and well being.
The next thing that a Dermatologist is responsible for is the actual skin treatments and therapy sessions with each patient as it relates to their skin. This might require both invasive and non-invasive procedures depending on the condition that a patient has, and the required treatment that must be conducted.
Dermatologists tend to practice a less is more approach when it comes to actual procedures that involve removal of skin or skin tissue. The reason for this is that Dermatologists believe that they should only remove skin that is affected or ailing the patient when absolutely necessary, and shouldn't remove more than necessary.
Some Dermatologists will become quite familiar with the patients who also suffer from chronic or skin conditions that need constant monitoring or treatment. For those patients that need constant monitoring or have chronic conditions, many of the procedures will involve non-invasive skin care.
To assist Dermatologists in the skin treatments, Dermatologists are responsible for using medical technology and devices like Dermoscopes, illuminating devices, and magnifying devices. These assist Dermatologists with knowing exactly where they need to assist the patient or perform various procedures.
The next important responsibility for Dermatologists is to stay up to date on their continuing education credit requirements. As we've covered in other career profiles, nearly every single healthcare role requires that healthcare professionals stay up to date with continuing education credits. These credits are designed to ensure that qualified healthcare professionals are staying up to date on some of the most recent medical advancements, modern research, new techniques, new technology, and more.
In addition, Dermatologists might be tasked with participating in additional professional development opportunities. These might be certain Dermatologist career fairs, Dermatologist professional societies, seminars, or training sessions that are unique for Dermatologist healthcare professionals.
The next core responsibility for Dermatologists is to assist their fellow healthcare professionals by training them whenever the situation calls for it. Because the healthcare industry is constantly moving forward, the healthcare professionals within the industry need to be ready for rapid change whenever it arises. As such, Dermatologists might be asked to provide their expertise and knowledge to train healthcare professionals with the tools they need to assist patients in any way they can.
Dermatologists might also be asked to assist in the development of resources or training materials that are used to teach other healthcare professionals or assist students in understanding some of the more complex topics. The healthcare industry deals with a lot of complex concepts, and the development of training materials and resources make these complex concepts more understandable so healthcare professionals know what to do when the moment arises.
The next key responsibility for Dermatologists, depending on their role, is to conduct research. Many Dermatologists have a responsibility of conducting new research as part of their role.
Some hospitals and healthcare facilities require that their Physicians all engage in some form of research, education facilities like universities and colleges might recommend that their Dermatologists also engage in research, or the Dermatologist might even have a desire to research new things regardless of a mandate.
The next important responsibility that Dermatologists have is to be proactive in knowing what they don't know. In other words, Dermatologists must be proactive in referring patients to specialists when they don't have the required knowledge or expertise to properly answer or treat some of the concerns or questions that a patient might have.
For those individuals who are potentially considering a career as a Dermatologist, a look at some of the common activities on the job will paint a better picture for you to evaluate if this is something you could realistically see yourself doing as a career. We've outlined some of the most common activities that you can expect to do each day as a Dermatologist.
• Care For Patients
The first and most common activity that Dermatologists will have in their role is to actually care for the patients. This will include providing personal dermatology care assistance, emotional support, skin disease education, and more.
• Analyze Data and Process Information
Dermatologists are tasked with using a host of different information sources to analyze patient data and process that information quickly. Healthcare professionals need to use a lot of information and data to make accurate patient recommendations or establish care plans. Dermatologists need to analyze the data quickly and efficiently so they can then make decisions and solve the unique problems that their patients are facing each day.
• Make Decisions and Solve Problems
The next common activity for Dermatologists is to make decisions and solve problems based on the data they've gathered and processed. Making decisions and solving the problems that their patient has will come with ease over time as Dermatologists learn how to implement the knowledge they've gained over time, and the education they've worked so hard to achieve.
• Document and Organize Patient Information
Once a patient care plan has been established, the next thing that a Dermatologist is tasked with doing each day is to document and organize a patient's information. This includes documenting their care plan, their recommended treatment follow-ups and more. In addition, the patient communications are part of the patient information records.
• Provide Consultation and Education to Patients
The next common activity for Dermatologists on a daily basis is to provide consultation and education to patients and inform them about what their skin affliction is, things they can do to improve their care condition, and much more. Dermatologists will also act as someone they can lean on when they have a question about their condition or unfamiliarity with their skin diseases.
• Communicate and Work Closely With Other Healthcare Professionals
Another common activity that Dermatologists can expect each day in their role is communicating and working closely with other healthcare professionals. The healthcare industry is a team environment, and Dermatologists should expect to work closely with others to impact and shape the healthcare industry together.
There are several skills that a Dermatologist should have in order to succeed throughout their career. We've outlined some of the top skills that you should strive to develop if you want to become a Dermatologist.
Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to patients to ensure proper care.
Must give full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. You must listen to your patient to determine what their issues are and try to solve them.
Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making
Need to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one.
Complex Problem Solving
Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions.
Must have knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Must be trustworthy because you have people's wellbeing in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it.
Must be able to look over a patient and determine possible diseases and aliments.
Dermatologists can either work in private practice and/or attend clinics at major teaching hospitals and institutions. There are a small number of dermatologists who work in major hospitals.
They usually have pretty comfortable working conditions and spend less time on their feet as other medical professionals.
Another perk is that many dermatologists own their own practice, or work in a group practice. It is rare that they work crazy hours or that they are on-call.
The majority work a set schedule and have normal work hours; they usually work between 30-40 hours a week.
To learn more about what it takes to become a Dermatologist, take a look at our comprehensive Dermatologist Career Path.
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