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Dermatologist Training Programs and Requirements

Dermatologist training consists of a three-to-four-year dermatologist residency program following the completion of a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Once certified, dermatologists can diagnose and treat skin, scalp and nail conditions.

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Essential Information

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 lasting three to four years. Those with academic or research ambitions may eventually pursue additional doctoral degrees.


Doctor of Medicine

The Doctor of Medicine 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 MD program can include:

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

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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.

Aspiring dermatologists must first complete their Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree before they can begin a dermatology residency program and training. These programs cover a variety of dermatological topics and prepare dermatologists to diagnose and treat skin conditions.

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