What is Dermatology?
Dermatology is the discipline of medicine that focuses exclusively on the diagnosis of diseases and disorders of the skin. A doctor who is a specialist in the field of Dermatology is called a Dermatologist. Responsibilities of a Dermatologist include inspecting, identifying and removing skin tumors, moles, cysts and other benign and malignant skin growths. Dermatologists also treat all types of skin problems including acne, rashes, boils, topical allergies, coning and other irregularities of the skin.
Such abnormalities treated by Dermatologists include dermatitis, seborrhea, psoriasis, dandruff, eczema and other types of skin conditions. While some Dermatologists only choose to perform medically necessary procedures, other Dermatologists choose to perform elective procedures. Elective procedures include laser hair removal, anti-aging peels or injections for Botox and /or collagen to reduce wrinkles.
Training and Education for Dermatologists
To become a Dermatologist, a person needs to complete a thorough course of education, training and licensing exams. Before a person can apply for their licensing exam and obtain it to practice Dermatology, a person must first obtain a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a scientific field such as biology and/or chemistry. The next step is to study at medical school for 4-years to obtain a medical degree.
While having a solid education is essential and necessary to understand how to be a competent Dermatologist, the latter parts of the training and education process are just as important. The internship, which begins after medical school, is where the medical knowledge learned is finally applied in a hospital under a supervised setting from more experienced doctors. Once the internship is completed, a residency of 4 years must be completed before licensing can be attempted. The residency consists of one year of a general type of medical practice such as emergency medicine, internal medicine, family practice, etc. The remaining three years will focus specifically on the practice of Dermatology in an accredited practice or hospital. Once a residency is completed successfully, the licensing test must be completed successfully before a doctor can be certified by the American Board of Dermatology and receive a license from their respective state.
After a Dermatologist is licensed and board certified, he or she can complete a fellowship, which is additional training to become an expert in a sub-specialty of Dermatology. One type of fellowship is available through the Mohs Surgery & Dermatology Center. Their fellowship focuses specifically on the Mohs Micrographic Surgery. During a fellowship at the Mohs Center, Dermatologists learn the Mohs Micrographic Surgery. This type of surgery is a complete removal of a skin cells that are cancerous along with a detailed mapping and removal of the roots and extensions of the skin cancer. It uses a microscopic approach to determine when all cancerous cells are removed and when there is a virtual certainty that no more cancer cells exist in the patient. It is especially useful for cancers in sensitive and hard to reach places and aggressive forms.
The Mohs surgery itself is the most different and comprehensive approach for skin cancer compared to conventional cancer surgeries. As part of the goal to completely remove the cancerous cells, the final wound may be larger than desired or projected. Dermatologists learn to focus on a more comprehensive approach to removing the cancer while maintaining the aesthetics of the patient’s skin. Benefits include cure rates of 99 percent and 95 for initial and recurrent cases of cancer respectively. Infection rates are 1 percent or less. Therefore, Dermatologists whom learn this procedure certainly will learn cutting edge Dermatologic surgical procedures[ii]
How to choose a Dermatologist
Just like when you choose any type of doctor for your medical needs, making sure you pick the right one is essential to becoming and staying healthy. Therefore, you need to make sure your Dermatologist has all of the following attributes to maximize your chances of receiving the best healthcare possible.
Looking out for the following qualifications will know that you are on the right track in your search for a Dermatologist. Making sure your doctor can work under pressure and make sound and intelligent decisions in emergency circumstances is essential. Making sure you Dermatologist is genuinely concerned about your issues is another good attribute. This is accomplished by your doctor asking you appropriate questions regarding your condition and allowing you to ask questions about it demonstrates genuine level of concern. Another attribute to look out for is the level of experience your Dermatologist has. Like most professions, the more experience he or she has, the more likely you are to be treated better and the less likely you are to suffer a medical mistake. Performing a background check on your Dermatologist will determine if he or she has any state sanctions or any current or past lawsuit against themselves. Looking for a doctor with none of these red flags will ensure you have an honest and competent doctor.
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Mohs Surgery & Dermatology Center. What is Mohs Surgery? Mohs Surgery & Dermatology Center. www.surgerymohs.com, Published 2010. Accessed November 8 2012.