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Studies & Degrees in Dermatology

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Dermatology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the conditions of the skin, scalp, hair and nails. Dermatology is a very unique specialization since it combines surgery, cosmetics and of course medical aspects as well. Dermatologists are usually knowledgeable in a lot of things since the skin is affected by many factors, like nutrition, genes and the environment. Since the earlier days of medicine, doctors, or physicians as they used to call them, were very interested in everything in relation to the skin – the diseases, functions and so on. But it is only more recently that doctors actually focused on the largest organ of the body. It was only in the late 1570s that an Italian doctor named Geronimo Mercuriali wrote the very first book about dermatology which was entitled “On the diseases of the skin”. The interest in dermatology returned during the 1800s when a few doctors focused on the skin and its diseases and produced photographs and drawings that detailed the different kinds of skin diseases and the possible cures. After the renewed interest of doctors in the skin and its diseases, what we now know as dermatology has thrived ever since.

Dermatology has many branches or subspecialties. The most common of which is cosmetic dermatology, followed by dermatopathology and pediatric dermatology. Cosmetic dermatology deals mainly with the improvement and beautifying of the skin; dermatopathology on the other hand is concerned with the pathology of the skin and the accompanying diseases and infections; meanwhile, pediatric dermatology focuses on treating the diseases more commonly found in infants, children and teenagers.

There are other less common subspecialties as well like immunodermatology, Mohs surgery and the most recent subspecialty, teledermatology. Immunodermatology is mostly concerned with the skin as the first layer of protection of the body against different kinds of microorganisms. The main focus of immunodermatology is to identify the different effects of the environment on the skin and how this in turn affects the way the body functions. Mohs micrographic surgery on the other hand, which was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic Mohs, focuses on treating skin cancers or more specifically, on the removal of non-melanoma cancers in areas of the body such as the face and the neck. Meanwhile, Teledermatology is a subspecialty that is very promising. Basically, its aim is to lessen the time between diagnosis and treatment by making use of technological advancements, mainly the internet. There are both pros and cons when it comes to Teledermatology but a more in depth research about this could remedy the situation and add more pros instead of cons.

Basically, dermatology is a very important specialization since skin problems and diseases are one of the most common problems that many people face every day. Dermatology has increased the quality of man’s life and this generation is certainly reaping the benefits of yesterday’s research in this medical specialty. Hopefully in the years to come, more and more skin diseases will not only be curable but also be preventable.

Job positions for Dermatology:

Pediatric Dermatology

There are some cases wherein a young person’s disease is exactly the same as an older patient’s but the symptoms are different or the medications don’t have the same effect. This is especially true if the patient in question has a skin disease. The skin is a very complex organ that changes as people get older. Many external and internal factors can affect its functions, and age is always a determining factor when it comes to treating skin diseases. As we all know, there are Pediatricians that specifically treat children. That’s why there are pediatric dermatologists who combine the two specializations in order to correctly diagnose children’s skin diseases.

So why is there a need for the combining of the two specializations? First of all, it must be taken into consideration that children are not smaller versions of adults. Their skin is different, their thought processes are different. If a child has a rash or any other kind of discomfort causing skin problem, then only a Pediatric Dermatologist can help them. Why? Well, children cannot correctly or fluently express what they feel. A dermatologist who has absolutely no experience when it comes to dealing with children cannot properly diagnose a skin disease. Pediatric dermatologists on the other hand were trained to treat children with ease so they can question them properly and make an accurate diagnosis. Another thing is that Pediatric Dermatologists invest in medical equipments that were specifically designed for children. Seeing as children are smaller than adults, some medical equipment will only serve to make diagnosing a child’s disease much harder than it ought to be. Another thing is that since pediatric dermatologists cater specifically to children, the examination room and waiting areas of a doctor’s office are most probably decorated with children in mind. Toys and children’s books could be found in the waiting areas of these doctor’s offices so that the children may be at ease while waiting for their turn.

What does it take to become a pediatric dermatologist? Well, first a person must complete at least twelve years of schooling. A student must obtain a bachelor’s degree, then a graduate degree in medicine. After that, a year of post-graduation training should be completed. When the year is finished, one must apply for both a pediatric and dermatology residency. A residency will last for three years. But one can just apply for a fellowship after a residency, instead of finishing two residency stints. Then, he or she can now take up the board exams.

But along with proper schooling, a few other traits and skills are needed in order to be an effective pediatric dermatologist. First, he/she should have that desire to be with children and must know how to deal with children’s tantrums and so on. Another, having a long patience is the key – if one losses patience easily, then, this could hinder one’s career. Also, the desire to gain more knowledge and learn about new things is also important.

Cosmetic Dermatologist

In an age where a beautiful face is considered an asset and good skin as an investment, it is no wonder that more and more people are opting for cosmetic procedures in order to improve their appearances. Before, cosmetic dermatology was mainly for the rich and the famous. But now, even non-celebrities go under the knife and make life altering changes to their appearances. That is why the increase in cosmetic operations has more than doubled in the past few years, what with many people jumping on the bandwagon of cosmetic surgery fans. In the world of cosmetic surgery, dermatologists are the leaders in this field since they specialize in skin care and skin conditions. These dermatologists who focus on the cosmetic part of their practice are known as Cosmetic Dermatologists. The most common procedures that cosmetic dermatologists do include Botox injections, liposuction and face lifts. The treatments that cosmetic dermatologists do range from the non-invasive, which includes prescribing topical ointments to patients with acne problems, to the more invasive treatments like the removal of varicose veins. Many people think that cosmetic dermatology is only present because it is man’s version of that elusive fountain of youth, but in reality, it is so much more. People who need skin grafts can go to cosmetic dermatologists in order to have burned or cancer-ravaged parts of their body embedded with new skin from a donor. Many people’s self-confidences are raised because unsightly birthmarks or scars can now be removed. The reality is that cosmetic dermatologists have managed to single-handedly uplift the spirits of many self-pitying individuals who lack confidence in the looks department, and THAT is a good thing.

So how does one become a cosmetic dermatologist? First of all, a person should get a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, then, it is followed by another four years of a medical school degree and lastly, one must have dedicated a year to post-graduate training or internship. After that, a person can now apply for a residency in dermatology. A residency usually lasts for three years and when a person has completed that, he or she can now take up a board examination.

A complete education is not the only requirement for aspiring cosmetic dermatologists. A few skills and traits are needed, including the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, good problem solving skills and most importantly, a dermatologist must have an open mind and a desire to gain more knowledge as he/she goes along. Other key characteristics include tactfulness and of course, patience. But the most important thing of all is the desire to help people no matter the circumstance and consequences.

A cosmetic dermatologist’s salary is usually big compared to other jobs, which is not a surprise considering the amount of money needed in order to study medicine. But other factors like the treatments one offers and the location of the office can also affect the salary.

Usually, cosmetic dermatologists in the US can earn more than $200,000 annually.