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What Is Dermatology?

Dermatology is a medical specialty that focuses on the treatment and management of skin conditions. This branch of medicine also treats conditions of the hair and nails, and it includes both surgical and non-surgical treatments. Dermatologists perform physical examinations, prescribe medications, administer injections, and perform surgery. They can treat a variety of concerns, including skin cancer, dry skin, cysts, hair loss, and scars. 

Dermatologists have a minimum of twelve years of training, and some dermatologists may choose to specialize in the treatment of pediatric patients. Other dermatologists specialize in Mohs surgery, an operation designed to remove skin cancer, and dermatologists can also specialize in dermatopathology, a discipline that uses microscopic investigation to diagnose skin diseases.

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Dermatologist Qualifications

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Dermatologists are fully qualified medical doctors, and they complete at least twelve years of formal medical training. After attending college for four years, prospective dermatologists graduate with a bachelor's degree. Then, they attend four years of medical school to earn their medical degree (M.D.). This is followed by a year-long internship, and dermatologists also complete a residency program of at least three years. The residency program involves intensive specialization in dermatology, and residents complete at least twelve to sixteen thousand hours of training alongside experienced doctors. 

After completing the residency program, some dermatologists may choose to have another period of advanced training in specific dermatological issues; this is known as fellowship training. Dermatologists who have completed their residency can also choose to complete a board certification exam. The exam is given by the American Board of Dermatology, and it covers the knowledge and skills the dermatologist has learned during their years of study. If the candidate successfully passes the exam, they are considered a board-certified dermatologist. This designation is highly regarded in the field.

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