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Training to become a specialist skin doctor

Why to become a dermatologist?

Dermatologists are doctors who help treat and prevent skin conditions. As such, they cover a wide range of specialties involving people's hair, nails, skin and muccose - the skin of the inside parts of our bodies, like nostrils and mouth -. Dermatologists play a big role in people's health because some condition that affect our skin can also have a huge impact in our overall health, both clinically and psychologically. Our skin is our outer layer, and much of our self-esteem, social and work success and even sexual appeal depends on its integrity. Also, some skin conditions, like skin cancer, can be deadly or at least signal a deadly illness beneath. For this reason, dermatologists can literally change, even save, people's lives.

Also, it is noteworthy that specialist doctors make more money than general clinicians, in some places even as much as double, and dermatology is one of the best paid specialties, even taking on account that skin specialists work less hours per week than average. 

Many dermatologists take one or two years to master a specific field of skin care, like prevention, cosmetics or special surgery. As a dermatologist, you can help heal scars, remove tattoos, erase birthmarks, repair skin damage due to burns or lesions, diagnose and treat deadly skin conditions and help prevent or diagnose a wide range of other diseases.

How to train

All dermatologists must start out by going to medical school and studying gerenal medicine. The way how to become a skin consultant is a bit lengthy, with many stages you have to pass, but once you do so, you find yourself in a well paid and well respected position with the power to help and save people.

First step is undergraduate education. Depending on you country, you will take around four years of general pre-medical courses, including biology, calcculus and chemistry. Once you do that, you sit for a general test for your admission into medical school. From there, it's another four years or so until you graduate as a doctor. That's when you choose your field of specialisation. After one year of general practice, you will spend three more years as an intern in your field of choice. Therefore, specialist education for dermatologists start with practices in the dermatology area at a clinic or hospital. After that, you are ready to practice medicine on your own. If you want to, you can take one or two more years of special studies in order to pick a more specific area of work.

Even if, technically speaking, after those twelve years you are fully trained to be a doctor, science is still advancing and new discoveries are made every year. Techniques are developed and tools are put on the reach of doctors for a better practice of medicine. For that reason, it is always advisable to keep updating your education, by further reading the news on these new discoveries, taking courses and going to workshops and conferences.

Where can you work as a dermatologist?

There are many possibilities of work for you when you finish your training as a skin consultant, and you can choose any of them and even combine them as you please. 

The most usual place of work for dermatologists is health institutions, like hospitals, practices and clinics. They will provide a large amount of patients, so you will rarely have to look for work or promote yourself. On the other hand, your payment per hour might be lesser than what you can get with private practice.

You can also open your own office and offer your services independently. This option is neither better nor worse than the one before, unless you live at a rural or faraway area where there is no health institution close. Job conditions are just different, and you make your personal choice on which one you prefer.

Other possible, and very important, possibilities for working as a dermatologist include the academic world, being a teacher, a professional consultant or a researcher. Academic work can be a great complement for your medical practice and help you stay in contact with the latest developments in medical science.

You can also work as part of a consultation service in teledermatology, a new area for online or long distance consultation, with sites like Reclaim Your Skin rapidly gaining popularity. Few dermatologists consider this option, as most of them don't even know this exists, but it can actually be a great job opportunity for those who think outside the box.

If you are interested in knowing more, or would like further details, click on this link to find out more about how to train to be a professional dermatologist.