Tips: What To Look For In A Dermatologist
Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases and conditions related to the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes (the lining inside the eyelids, nose, and mouth). A dermatologist is specially qualified to treat a variety of conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, rosacea, skin cancer, wrinkles, age spots, and hair loss. People of all ages, from newborns to those over 100 years of age, can often benefit from regularly seeing a skilled dermatologist.
In order to become a dermatologist, candidates must complete a minimum of 12 years of post-secondary education, including a minimum of 3 years in a dermatology residency program. This equates to a requirement of 12,000 to 16,000 patient hours.
Unfortunately, not all dermatologists are created equal. Finding the right dermatologist for your needs requires time and effort. It’s always a good idea to research any prospective physician online and/or solicit referrals from friends and family. In your quest for a new dermatologist make sure to pay attention to these six critical factors:
Choose a dermatologist that is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. While technically any doctor with a medical degree can start a skin care practice, board certified dermatologists meet an additional set of education and experience criteria including:
- Has a valid license to practice medicine
- The completion of medical school, and internship, and an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education – accredited dermatology residence program
- Passed the exams given by the American Board of Dermatology, American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
The easiest way to know if a dermatologist is board certified is to perform a search on the American Academy of Dermatology website: https://find-a-derm.aad.org/ .
Consider the Need for Specialization
Some board certified dermatologists complete additional education and training in order to specialize in areas like Mohs surgery, dermatopathology, or pediatric dermatology. Such additional fellowship training can be extremely valuable when it comes to properly treating certain conditions. Patients who know they need a specific procedure should concentrate their search on dermatologists with additional fellowship training. Ask any candidate about their history performing the procedure including complications.
All patients deserve a dermatologist that they feel comfortable with. This means finding a dermatologist with a communication style and personality that works with yours. When reading reviews or soliciting referrals form friends ask if visits feel rushed. A good dermatologist will take the time to fully address your concerns and explain all the treatment options.
After Hours Care
It’s important for patients to always be able to reach out to their dermatologist after office hours, during evening and on weekends. Many dermatologists will offer on-call or answering services to handle any emergencies like allergic reactions. You should never feel left in the dark on the weekend or after hours on weekdays.
Lastly, yet importantly, to limit any out-of-pocket “surprise bills” make sure that any prospective dermatologist qualifies as a provider in your current health care insurance policy. Make sure to check the status of the provider with your health insurance company directly. Also be sure to obtain a referral from your primary care physician if your insurance plans requires this, as a dermatologist is considered a specialist.