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How Do I Become a Skin Cancer Specialist?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Skin cancer specialists are dermatologists who assess, diagnose, and treat patients with signs of skin cancer. You'll typically need extensive education to become a dermatologist and specialize in skin cancer, including four years of undergraduate education and four years of medical school. Then, you will typically spend a few years in residency training and possibly another year or two in a fellowship. In most places, you will also have to pass a licensing exam to practice medicine, and you may have to pass an exam for board certification as well.

A college education is a requirement when you want to become a skin cancer specialist. The exact requirements you will face typically depend on the country in which you choose to study but often first involve committing about four years to earning a bachelor's degree. Since your next step after college will likely be medical school, you might consider majoring in a subject such as biology, chemistry, or another science. You may also consider choosing a pre-medicine major, but most medical schools will accept qualified students no matter what their majors. This means you can choose a math major and still have a chance at gaining admission to medical school to become a skin cancer specialist.

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After college, you will typically have to enroll in medical school to become a skin cancer specialist. Usually, medical school lasts for four years and provides a variety of learning experiences, including laboratory experiments and classes that increase your knowledge of science, the human body, and health care. In the last two years of medical school, you will usually participate in a clinical component as part of your preparation for earning a medical degree. This means you will observe licensed doctors in practice and have supervised patient contact. These experiences are intended to help you learn more about medicine; gain valuable knowledge of evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment methods; and develop skills for interacting with patients and other medical staff.

In most cases, before you can practice medicine as a skin cancer specialist, you will need on-the-job training. This type of training is referred to as a residency and takes place under the supervision of experienced doctors and more advanced residents. During residency training, you will learn more about general medicine and the dermatology specialty while evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients with ever-decreasing levels of supervision. You may also participate in a fellowship program in a sub-specialty of dermatology to prepare for this career.

Aside from a medical degree, you may also need licensing to become a skin cancer specialist. In most jurisdictions, you have to pass a licensing examination before you can practice as a doctor. You may also need to seek board certification in your field by meeting training requirements and passing a certification exam.

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