CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a dermatologist.
Is becoming a dermatologist right for me?
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Getting a bachelor's degree from a four-year university is the first step to becoming a dermatologist. This can include pre-med courses in biology, organic chemistry, physics, and general chemistry. Some students must also complete math and biochemistry coursework depending on the medical school they wish to attend.
After completing a bachelor's degree, aspiring dermatologists need to take and perform well on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). They must then attend a four-year accredited medical school. A high undergraduate GPA is essential, as admission to medical school is extremely competitive.
Following medical school, aspiring dermatologists must complete a dermatology residency. A residency in dermatology involves one year as an intern in either general surgery or internal medicine, followed by three years of clinical residency in dermatology.
After the completion of residency, many dermatologists choose to pursue further training in sub-specialized fields such as cosmetic surgery, laser medicine, dermatopathology, phototherapy, immunodermatology, or Moh's micrographic surgery. This is done through a one- or two-year fellowship.
Dermatologists must obtain and keep a current license to practice. After successfully completing medical school and dermatology residency, they are eligible to sit for the Dermatology Board Examination (administered by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD)) and can finally be deemed “board-certified”.
Dermatologists who have completed a fellowship and passed the general board examination can get further certification and take the appropriate Subspecialty Board Examination through the ABD. To maintain board certification, a dermatologist must re-take and pass the board examination every ten years, and complete continuing medical education (CME) requirements throughout his or her career.