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Purpose and Mission
A dermatologist is a specialist in all aspects of the skin – their job is to identify, diagnose and treat skin-related diseases. These vary from non-life threatening, yet challenging, conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis, to potentially terminal cancers. Dermatologists also advise patients on how to prevent skin problems through a variety of strategies, including diet, lifestyle choices and medication. Many dermatologists also help with cosmetic issues.
Being a dermatologist involves a high level of responsibility. The skin is the body’s largest organ which includes nails, hair, the mouth and genitalia. Furthermore, a dermatologist is qualified to perform numerous complex procedures, such as laser therapy, biopsies and ionising radiation, which other specialists are not permitted to engage in. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, dermatologists must keep up with developments through continual study.
The educational path to becoming a dermatologist begins with medical training. A dermatologist must first fully qualify as a doctor, which requires six years of study at university level, to achieve a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). The next step is a few years of full-time training at an accredited hospital.
After that, it is necessary to apply for a four-year long course, specifically in dermatology. The only government-accredited institution to provide this is the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD), so entry is extremely competitive. Training involves regular, rigorous assessment, to make sure that qualified dermatologists are capable of performing at a consistently high standard.
Steps for Becoming a Dermatologist in Australia
Refer to Medical Graduates or Overseas Trained Specialists at the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) for more information.
All doctors that are trained in Australia or overseas, must be registered with the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) to practise in Australia and with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which provides administrative and policy support to the National Health Practitioners Boards.
A dermatologist requires, not only significant specialist knowledge, but also an array of other skills.
It’s important to be a good communicator. Patients with difficult skin conditions can feel rather self-conscious or, in more extreme cases, might suffer from debilitatingly low self-esteem. Diseases like eczema and psoriasis can prove rather stubborn, causing irritation, anxiety and even depression. In the case of more serious illnesses, patients might become severely distressed. So a dermatologist needs to be emotionally aware and able to communicate confidently yet sensitively.
A dermatologist usually works across a variety of age groups. So he or she must be comfortable with not only adults who might be upset or fearful, but also babies, children and elderly people. Working with such a range of individuals calls for flexibility, patience and perceptiveness.
Skin conditions can be rather complex. They can be caused by diverse factors, including diet, lifestyle and even other medical conditions. So a dermatologist must be capable of thinking broadly and should maintain a detailed working knowledge of general medicine.
Some of the procedures conducted by dermatologists are rather complicated, demanding discipline and close attention to detail. A dermatologist must be hard-working, thorough and committed to achieving the best possible outcome. He or she should be willing to undertake intricate work and complete the ongoing study necessary to remaining on top of the job. It’s definitely a role best suited to dedicated, hard-working, passionate, curious and caring individuals.