How To Become A Dermatologist in the US

What is a dermatologist?  This term refers to a professional doctor who specializes on the structure of the skin, its various conditions, diseases and treatments.


According to the IMS Health, a company that provides the latest information about the healthcare industry, the United States currently has 9,600 dermatologists.  This number is expected to grow 20% until 2020.


Licensed dermatologists have an annual income ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.  Moreover, they work fewer hours in a week compared to orthopedic surgeons and urologists.


If you are like many high school students wondering how to become a dermatologist, proceed to the following steps that will help you earn the title.

how to become a dermatologist


Step 1: Take a Premed Course. 

Dermatology is not a four-year bachelor’s degree.  It is a field of study that an aspiring dermatologist enters after he has acquired a degree from a medical school.


Medical schools, on the other hand, prefer applicants who have completed a four-year undergraduate course in biology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, or math.


If you are considering any of the courses mentioned above, consider financial assistance or scholarships that are offered by some colleges to help you cover your tuition.



Step 2: Get a Doctoral Degree in Medicine. 

The completion of a Bachelor of Science degree program, however, will not guarantee immediate entry to a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education.


For you to be admitted into an accredited medical school, you must work hard in securing a high grade point average (GPA).  Aside from this, you should also pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) with a high score. Chances of entering medical school with a low MCAT score are slim to nil.


Medical school admission requires not only brains but also cash, for you’ll be paying from $27,000 to $52,100 a year depending on the school you plan to attend.  It’s good to know that several medical schools offer scholarships to aid students who are not financially capable of paying their tuition.



Step 3: Pass the US Medical Licensing Exam. 

A graduate course in medicine will take four years to finish just like most bachelor’s degree programs.  But unlike the students in biology or another four-year undergraduate course, those in medical school have to pass the first part of the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) before they can proceed to formal dermatology training or dermatology residency.



Step 4: Complete Dermatology Residency. 

An extensive postgraduate training program called dermatology residency awaits those students who have acquired a medical degree and passed part one of the USMLE.  If you are fortunate to be among them, you will work as an intern for general medicine or for surgery in your first year of residency.


Your actual training under the dermatology program will not start until your second year and it will end on your fourth year of residency.


Licensed practitioners will provide you and the others hands-on training on how to become a dermatologist.  During this time, you will also take the second part of the USMLE, which you need to pass with a high score.



Step 5: Pass the Dermatology Board Examination.

After having completed the dermatology residency, you can proceed to take the Dermatology Board Examination, which the American Board of Dermatology administers annually.


Certified board members can practice their profession in either hospitals or private clinics.  Some work in an office or academe.  However, majority of dermatologists continue to probe into the different areas of dermatology, like pediatric dermatology, to broaden the scope of their services.


It is important to note, though, that a dermatologist has to complete his continuing medical education (CME) requirements in order to remain board-certified.  To ensure he does not lose his license, he has to take the board exam every ten years.



Considering a dermatologist salary, there is no question that dermatology is a thriving career and a lucrative business especially for chemists and scientists.


Before looking at the figures, though, you need to master all the steps on how to become a dermatologist.  If you can do this, you will enjoy many years of a happy professional life.

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