What Is Involved in Dermatology Training?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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Dermatology training involves opportunities for clinical practice with patients in a variety of settings, initially under close supervision as the dermatologist acquires clinical skills. The length of time spent in training depends on the certification requirements in a given country. In the United States, for instance, dermatologists complete four years of residency after medical school, with three of those years focusing on dermatology after a first-year residency in a field such as internal medicine or pediatrics. Dermatologists also can go on to fellowships for additional training in a particular area of specialty.

Doctors in dermatology training start their work under the supervision of trained dermatologists. They meet with patients, order diagnostic tests and recommend appropriate treatments. These doctors typically must attend regular training sessions during residency for activities such as presenting cases, viewing unusual cases and discussing advancements in the field. Doctors in dermatology training can also start to perform minor procedures in addition to diagnosing patients and participating in activities such as community outreach to educate people about skin care issues.


As the training advances, the doctor becomes more autonomous. People in advanced dermatology training will also learn more advanced skills. In addition to clinical interactions with patients, they might study dermatopathology, perform surgery and learn about the dermatological presentations of diseases such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) that might affect multiple physical systems. Dermatology residents also work on the consult service. When other doctors in a teaching hospital need assistance from a skin care expert, they can contact a resident to meet with the patient and join the treatment team.

Over the course of dermatology training, a doctor often discovers a particular area of interest. Some doctors might begin to focus on cosmetic dermatology, the application of their training to the treatment of aesthetic issues. Others are more interested in medical dermatology and the treatment of ongoing disease processes, ranging from genetic disorders to fungal infections of the skin. Fellowships can offer even more advanced dermatology training to a doctor who wants to be able to provide the best care possible to patients.

At the end of dermatology training, it is possible for the trainee to apply for board certification in dermatology. This is not necessarily required, but it can be very beneficial. Doctors with such certification can be more employable in some markets and might have better opportunities in terms of wages and benefits. They also can work in fields such as research to improve the care of skin conditions.



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