Dermatologist Training Programs and Requirements

Dermatologists are medical doctors that specialize in treatment and care of the skin. They diagnose and treat skin conditions associated with the scalp, hair and nails.

Essential Information

Students interested in becoming dermatologists must first complete medical school. All dermatologists must complete a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree before they are able to practice. Dermatology students receive practical training by completing clinical rotations during the MD program.

Clinical training also forms a major portion of post-doctoral residency programs. Dermatologists should be comfortable diagnosing diseases and treating patients before practicing full-time. Students must then enter a special dermatology program that includes a residency. Those with academic or research ambitions may eventually pursue additional doctoral degrees.

  • Program Length: Residencies typically last 3-4 years
  • Online Availability: The hands-on nature of clinical training precludes distance learning
  • Prerequisites: Applicants to M.D. programs need to have completed a bachelor's program with specific prerequisites

Doctor of Medicine

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is a 4-year, specialized program that prepares students to work as physicians. Students must complete certain prerequisite pre-medical courses before enrolling, including organic chemistry and anatomy. The curriculum of an MD program may include courses like human health and disease, immunology, epidemiology and the nervous system.

Curricula vary from program to program, but students can expect to spend the first years learning about the core basic sciences, and then moving on to clinical clerkships and scholarly investigation towards the latter stages of the program. Course topics in a standard M.D. program can include:

  • Inter-professional leadership
  • Clinical skills
  • Health policy
  • Global skills

Dermatology Residency

Graduates of MD programs must enter a specialized dermatology training program, which consists of advanced coursework and residency training. During this time, doctors receive hands-on, clinical training as they rotate through numerous locations. They also receive an intensive didactic education as they participate in laboratory investigation and clinical outcomes research. Students in these programs can expect to study the following subjects:

  • General dermatology
  • Complex medical dermatology
  • Pediatric dermatology
  • Dermatologic surgery
  • Dermatopathology

Continuing Education & Certification

Many dermatologists choose to continue to study throughout their career. Continuing education courses are widely available through local universities. Dermatologists interested in pursuing an academic or scholarly position may pursue a Ph.D. in a related field.

All doctors must be licensed in order to practice legally. This involves graduating from an accredited medical school and passing the U. S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Dermatologists can gain certification through the American Board of Dermatology (ABD)

Career Information

Dermatologists can expect to enjoy good job prospects over the next decade, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 14% job growth for all physicians and surgeons from 2014-2024. Payscale.com reported a median salary of $204,072 for dermatologists in 2016.

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