Become a Pediatric Dermatologist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a pediatric dermatologist. Research the education and career requirements, training and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in pediatric dermatology. View article »

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Video Transcript

Become a Pediatric Dermatologist

A pediatric dermatologist specializes in treating children who have skin diseases or other skin conditions, including acne, vitiligo, eczema, psoriasis and more. They recommend courses of treatment and offer services, such as laser therapy, phototherapy and Botox. Pediatric dermatologists may choose to work in small practices which allow them a large degree of independence when deciding hours and patient loads. Another option is to work in group practices or hospitals. Sharing their patient load with more physicians may allow them to coordinate with one another to ensure time off, but it takes away much of their autonomy.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Degree Field Medicine
Experience 1 year of internship training, 3-4 years of residency training, 1-3 years of fellowship training
Licensure and Certification A state-issued license to practice medicine is required; board-certification in dermatology and pediatric dermatology is required
Key Skills Patience, empathy, attention to detail, physical stamina, and dexterity; strong verbal and written communication skills, leadership, organizational and problem-solving skills; knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, and knowledge of common skin disorders and treatments
Median Salary (2015) $183,180 (for all pediatricians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), American Academy of Dermatology, O*Net Online

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Career Steps

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step toward becoming a pediatric dermatologist is to earn a bachelor's degree. Students can select any major they prefer, but they'll need to take courses in biology, chemistry and physics, as well as humanities and social sciences, in order to fulfill medical school admissions requirements.

The following are tips for success:

  • Volunteer. Medical school admissions tend to be highly competitive, and a high grade point average may not be enough to help students stand out. Aspiring physicians may benefit from volunteering at a local hospital or clinic.
  • Participate in a job shadowing program. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommends that aspiring physicians participate in job shadowing to learn about the daily routines and duties of doctors. An undergraduate student can arrange to shadow a pediatric dermatologist.

Step 2: Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Aspiring pediatric dermatologists must take the MCAT in order to attend medical school. The MCAT exam is a standardized test offered in a multiple choice format and tests students' writing and problem-solving skills while also testing their understanding of medicine and science.

Step 3: Complete a Medical School Program

As M.D. or D.O. candidates, students take part in classes and practice techniques on simulated patients before progressing to training in real situations. The first two years of medical school are typically devoted to classroom and laboratory instruction covering a variety of medical topics, including anatomy, physiology and cell biology. The second two years of study consist of clinical rotations covering medical specialties such as family medicine, neurology and dermatology.

Step 4: Complete an Internship and a Residency in Dermatology

Aspiring pediatric dermatologists must complete a one-year internship followed by a three- to four-year residency in general dermatology. Seeing patients is the main component of these programs, but residents also attend lectures and conferences as well as participate in scientific or clinical research.

Step 5: Obtain a License

After earning a degree from an accredited medical school and participating in a residency, aspiring pediatric dermatologists need to obtain a license from the state in which they wish to practice. While requirements may vary by state, most states require candidates to pass exams. M.D.s must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, while D.O.s must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam. These exams test a student's ability to understand concepts, principles and skills related to medicine.

Step 6: Earn Board Certification

Before doctors can pursue careers in pediatric dermatology, they must first obtain primary board certification in dermatology. This certification is offered by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD), and it requires applicants to take an exam covering dermatopathology, clinical dermatology principles and dermatological surgery, among other topics. Candidates for board certification must take the exam within five years of completing their residencies.

Step 7: Train in a Fellowship

A dermatologist must complete at least one year of fellowship training before taking the ABD examination for sub-specialty certification in pediatric dermatology. These programs typically include clinical experience in dermatologic surgeries and treatment of skin conditions in children. Fellows also learn about special medical and psychological issues that arise when dealing with children with skin disorders.

Step 8: Obtain Sub-Specialty Certification

The ABD certifying examination includes questions on anatomy, various dermatological conditions, surgery, laboratory medicine and general medicine. A section on pediatric dermatology includes questions on related areas, including diaper rash, neonatal disorders and vascular conditions. Physicians who pass this examination are considered to be board-certified in pediatric dermatology. Certification requires maintenance every 10 years.

Step 9: Continue Education

Pediatric dermatologists can continue their education by participating in courses and seminars throughout their careers. In addition to fulfilling requirements for recertification or licensure renewal, continuing education keeps a physician current in advances to the field of dermatology, allowing them to advance their careers within this specialty.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Joining a professional organization, such as the American Academy of Dermatology Association, can provide a pediatric dermatologist with access to continuing education opportunities, publications and other membership benefits.

After nearly a decade of education, training, and experience, pediatric dermatologists specialize in treating children who have skin diseases or other skin conditions, and make a median annual salary of $183,180.

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