How to Become a Dermatologist
Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and infections of the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes. Becoming a dermatologist is tough work, and it requires the same amount of skill, effort, and education as any other medical doctor. If you’re thinking of becoming a dermatologist someday, read what it takes to get through each step in the process.
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
Just like any other doctor, the first step is earning your bachelor’s degree. Pre-med students can typically choose any major that they want, but there are certain classes that are required in order to pass the MCAT and get into medical school. Many pre-med students major in a natural science field like biochemistry and cellular and Molecular biology (BCMB), chemistry, or biology. Other students choose to take all of the required courses and major in a social science or humanities discipline.
Go to Medical School
To get into medical school, you must have first earned your bachelor’s degree, and you also need to have taken the Medical College Admission Test. Getting into medical school is both challenging and competitive, so it’s important to take your college academics seriously. Common degrees you can earn through medical schools are a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). You will need one of these two degrees to become a dermatologist.
Go Through an Internship Program
When you graduate from medical school, you are legally a doctor. However, in order to practice medicine in the United States, there additional requirements. Completing a one-year internship is one of those requirements. Interns train at hospitals and clinics. It is at this point that medical students wishing to become dermatologists will try to complete their internship in a field related to dermatology like general medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics.
Complete Your Residency Program in Dermatology
After completing an internship, doctors move on to a three-year residency program. Dermatology residency programs are even tougher to get into than admission to medical school. Your residency training is an intense time period where you will see patients and learn to diagnose and treat skin diseases and infections. You will receive surgical training during this time, which includes skin and nail biopsies, excisions and skin cancer removal, cryotherapy, and injection of fillers like botulinum toxin (Botox). After the completion of your three-year residency, you must take a board exam to become a board-certified medical dermatologist.