Most dermatologists are in private practice, either individually or with others. A few work for hospitals or similar health agencies. Some establish their practices at large university medical centers in order to combine an active practice with teaching at a university or medical school. Researchers work in university or private laboratories, searching for new cures and treatments.
Once a doctor finishes the residency program, there are several options for beginning to practice dermatology. The most difficult is to set up a private practice. It is a considerable expense to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies, pay staff salaries, rent office space, pay liability insurance, and advertise. It can take up to 15 years to become established and reach full earning potential.
A second option is to take over the practice of a dermatologist who is retiring or relocating. This has the benefit of offering an already existing patient list.
Some dermatologists join a group practice or enter into partnership with a related medical specialist such as an allergist, an immunologist, or a plastic surgeon.
Many newly qualified dermatologists are much more likely to take salaried jobs in group medical practices, clinics, or health maintenance organizations. After several years, they may decide to open their own practice. Some find opportunities with federal or state agencies, private businesses, or the military.
Dermatologists with their own private practices can increase their earnings or improve their clinical status by expanding their practices or moving to larger cities. They may become teachers at medical schools in addition to treating patients, or they may go into research.
Some go into hospital administration, where they have less contact with patients and more involvement with staff and the day-to-day operation of the hospital.
Many physicians participate in national organizations, such as the American Medical Association or the American Academy of Dermatology, where they can serve on committees and be elected to offices, increasing their status.
Tips for Entry
Try to schedule a tour of a dermatologist's office. When making the appointment, explain that you are interested in a dermatology career and ask if you could set up an information interview with the doctor.
Volunteer in a hospital, clinic, or even nursing home to gain exposure to a health care environment, acquire practical experience, and gauge how well you like working in the medical field.
Visit https://www.aad.org/public to learn more about the career and the skin conditions dermatologists encounter and treat.
Make an appointment to have your skin checked by a dermatologist to experience firsthand the work they do.