Dermatology is simply defined as: “a branch of medicine dealing with the skin, its structure, functions, and diseases.” A career in dermatology is a great opportunity for any prospective physician due to the rewarding nature of the practice, the excellent payscale, opportunities for research, and an outstanding career outlook. Each dermatologist has a different, unique set of reasons for entering their chosen career path. Something that many dermatologists share is that their personal lives have been impacted by a skin condition that they or a loved one has experienced.
Whatever your situation, there are a number of reasons to choose dermatology moving forward. Here are some highlights of the career outlook for dermatologists including some baseline information and educational requirements, the career and salary outlook for dermatologists, and finally some fields of study in which dermatologists can specialize.
Dermatology Career Facts and Requirements
Without further ado, here are some highlights that show what you can expect going into the field of dermatology:
Dermatologists are licensed medical doctors. This one is probably obvious to most readers, but all dermatologists must have their Doctor of Medicine (MD) to practice. Medical schools will generally accept students with an undergraduate degree in a number of different fields, but tend to prefer applicants with a background in chemistry, biology, or other related sciences.
Dermatologists must be licensed. Dermatologists must be licensed to practice in their respective state. This requires getting an MD, completing a residency program, and finally completing the United States Medical Licensing Examination. As with all of the items so far, this is true of all medical doctors.
There are over 10,000 dermatologists in the US. Dermatology is a booming field in the medical community, yet there are relatively few dermatologists compared to other major fields. For example, there are somewhere in the ballpark of 100,000 pediatricians and 250,000 primary care physicians currently practicing in the US.
Dermatologist Career and Salary Outlook
A physician practicing in America made a median annual salary of $251,074 in 2019. By comparison, the median annual salary of dermatologists in 2019 was $419,000. This pay scale comes in fourth amongst all medical specialties according to a recent survey of medical professionals. Here are some highlights of list for reference:
- Orthopedics: $482k
- Plastic surgery: $471k
- Olotaryngology: $461k
- Cardiology: $430k
- Dermatology: $419k
- Allergy & Immunology: $275k
- Neurology: $267k
- Family medicine: $231k
- Pediatrics: $225k
- Public Health & Preventive Medicine: $209k
Job growth for dermatologists is healthy, with a 7 percent demand increase year over year for physicians in general, and a much higher demand increase for dermatologists. Since 2004, vacancies for dermatologists have gone up 80.51 percent, greatly outpacing the national average vacancy growth for most fields.
Dermatology Fields of Study
Now that we know that dermatology is a lucrative and in-demand field, what exactly does one do as a dermatologist? Caring for skin conditions is just the start. There are many fields of study and specialties within the realm of dermatology, including:
Cosmetic Dermatology or Aesthetic Dermatology
Cosmetic procedures very frequently involve the skin as either the primary or secondary concern. Many dermatologists choose to specialize in cosmetic dermatology which can include cosmetic surgeries and non-invasive procedures such as face lifts, liposuction, skin grafts, and much more. Within this field, some dermatologists opt to focus on non-invasive procedures while others specialize on cosmetic surgery.
In order to practice as pediatric dermatologists, physicians must complete both a pediatric residency and a dermatology residency or complete a voluntary post-residency fellowship to complete their training. There are several specific skin concerns that are core in the field of pediatric dermatology such as hereditary skin conditions/genodermatoses, neonates, and dealing with common skin conditions in young patients.
Immunodermatology, Dermatopathology, Mohs Surgeon, and More!
There are too many sub-specialties within the field of dermatology to cover here. Other options include:
- Immunodermatology: many skin conditions are tied into the immune system as the skin itself plays a major role in our immunology. Immunodermatology provides solutions for diagnostics, wet tissue labs, clinicopathologic correlation, immunofluorescence, and much more.
- Dermatopathology: dermatopathologists are essentially doctors who specialize in diagnosing skin diseases. This typically includes infectious diseases, pediatric disease, melanoma, etc.
- Mohs Surgery Specialist: Mohs surgery touts a 99% cure rate for many forms of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
- Teledermatology: as we move deeper into the digital age, medicine is becoming more and more remote. Teledermatologists work with patients remotely to diagnose, manage, and treat skin conditions around the world.
- And more
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