The schooling required to become a dermatologist covers a period of twelve years. This includes a four year undergraduate program, four year medical program and four year residency. Afterward, students must pass the certification and license exam administered by the American Board of Dermatology.
What is a Dermatologist?
A dermatologist is a doctor that specializes in disorders of the skin. They diagnosis, treat and prevent skin disease, skin cancer and cosmetic abnormalities. They utilize specialized skills including dermasurgery, dermabrasion, radiotherapy and laser therapy. Dermatologists learn these skills in medical school and during their dermatology residency. The schooling required to become a dermatologist is demanding and competitive.
Preparing for Medical School
The first step on the path to becoming a dermatologist is applying to a four year undergraduate bachelor of science program. Students can complete a pre-medical program or major in a specific discipline such as biology or chemistry. Medical schools accept students that have a high grade point average, great recommendations and documented extracurricular activities. The defining criteria for admission to medical school is usually a student's performance on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It consists of four parts including scientific reasoning in the physical sciences, scientific reasoning in the biological sciences, verbal reasoning and writing. The reasoning sections are scored from 1 to 15 and the writing section is scored from J to T.
Medical School Curriculum
Medical school is a four year program. In the first year, students study the human anatomy and its processes at the cellular level. Courses include biochemistry, genetics, embryology, physiology, neuroscience and endocrinology. In the second year, students study pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, clinical medicine and organ systems. In the third and fourth years, students learn in a clinical setting and give care to patients. The year is broken into several rotations, where students learn a specific area of medicine such as surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and internal medicine.
Upon completion of medical school, doctors can choose dermatology as the field of medicine they would like to specialize in. To be eligible for the certification and license exam administered by the American Board of Dermatology, doctors must complete a three year dermatology residency at an accredited hospital, after their first year residency program is complete. Those looking to specialize in dermasurgery, require five years of surgical training before beginning the dermatology residency. The residency includes medical and surgical training, with concentration in rheumatology, immunology, neurology, infectious disease, venereology and phlebology.
Certification and Continuing Education
The American Board of Dermatology grant the title 'Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology' to dermatologists that successfully complete the dermatology residency and pass the licensure exams. With this certification, the schooling required to become a dermatologist is complete. Dermatologists can apply for membership with the American Society for Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Many dermatologists continue their education to maintain or renew their license and to further specialize their practice. Some of these specializations include dermapathology, pediatric dermatology and dermatological immunology.