A dermatologist needs excellent understanding of the following:
- the skin and subcutaneous tissue anatomy
- cutaneous microanatomy and biology
- clinical pharmacology
- basic immunology
- basic radiation physics and radiobiology, and basic laser physics
They also need:
- an understanding of the common association between skin disease and other disorders typically within the realm of General Medicine
- to be able to perform procedures including biopsies, cryotherapy and the removal of skin lesions
- good interpersonal and communicative skills with people of all ages
- empathy to counsel patients who suffer psychological stress from their visible disease.
Dermatologists either work in private practice and/or attend clinics at major teaching hospitals and institutions. A small number have full-time positions in major hospitals and institutions. Dermatologists rarely attend emergencies or have on-call responsibilities. There is a high level of patient contact and in many cases long-term ongoing care for patients with chronic skin conditions.
On average, a dermatologist can expect to earn between $3,000 or more per week ($156,000 or more per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Dermatologists need to be familiar with advances in ultraviolet light therapy, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy and drug treatment. Advances in genetics, molecular biology, pathology and immunology have also assisted dermatologists in the diagnosis and treatment over the past few years.
Although many skin diseases can be treated with topical therapy, such as creams and lotions, in Australia today, surgery is widely used by dermatologists in the treatment of skin cancers, including melanomas. Radiotherapy is also utilised by dermatologists in the treatment of skin cancers.
To become a dermatologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in dermatology.
To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.
Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information. Learn more about your study options.
To specialise in dermatology, doctors can apply to the Australasian College of Dermatology (ACD) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.
To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).
To work as a dermatologist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.