Dermatologist Career Information

Dermatologists are specialist doctors dealing with skin conditions. This is a particularly widespread area of specialist medical practice. Dermatologists play an important part in treatment of often serious skin conditions with major medical issues. 

The Work Environment

The dermatologist works in a clinical environment, usually a private practice, although some dermatologists are attached to major public and private health clinics. Most dermatologists operate with a client base which is derived from referrals from general practitioners. In some cases patients prefer to deal direct with dermatologists about ongoing issues. 

The dermatologist provides these services to clients:

  • Diagnosis 
  • Consultation
  • Some procedures for minor skin conditions
  • Case management services for ongoing treatments

Dermatologists are also important providers of specialist services in terms of dealing with serious skin conditions. Even comparatively common skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema can lead to serious infections. In some cases a dermatologist may be required to diagnose issues related to necrotic conditions involving loss of tissue, severe skin ulcerations and other potentially life threatening situations. 

In the consultancy role, the dermatologist deals with two areas of practice:

Cosmetic issues: Some skin conditions can cause disfigurement, and the dermatologist can advise regarding treatment options and cosmetic solutions. In other cosmetic situations, minor treatment like liquid nitrogen applications and electrolytic treatments are used to remove blemishes or unwanted features. Major procedures, involving large amounts of tissue, are surgical, rather than clinical procedures.

Treatment management: Some skin conditions are particularly hard to treat, requiring care over long periods. There are major health issues related to these diseases. Regular monitoring and advice are required for the patients, who may experience significant dysfunction in basic daily tasks like washing. Conditions where re-infection of lesions are an issue also require a complete monitoring and evaluation process. 

Wages: $150,000-$200,000 per year, depending on years of experience, size of practice and fees structures.

Hours: Usually clinic hours, although emergency situations like infections may affect hours in serious cases requiring dermatologists to provide assistance with records and advice to treating doctors.

The Career Environment

Dermatologists, as specialists, are in a "niche market" in their area of medicine. Some dermatologists may also specialize in particular fields of dermatology, like infectious diseases or cosmetic treatments, etc., operating clinics which give advanced treatment in these areas.

Career progression is naturally within the same field, but may develop in different ways. There are several possible forms of career progression for dermatologists in addition to specializations:

Training roles: Dermatology is a growing professional field based on public demand, and the need for qualified trainers is naturally increasing. 

Research: In pharmaceutical, biological and purely medical areas, research into dermatological conditions is a major area of research. Skin pathogens and related infections, as well as serious diseases like melanoma, are very much part of government and commercial research initiatives. Skin diseases represent a large cost to the health care systems of the world, and dermatology is a natural area of pure research. 

Pediatric dermatology: This is a major niche in dermatology, because of the major health issues which can relate to childhood skin problems and the volume of cases under management. As a career option, it's often a necessary area of skills development for dermatologists, who may then specialize in this important field.