How to become a Dermatologist in SA
Do you have an interest in the medical field and the science behind skincare, cosmetic beauty and medical skin treatments? The field of dermatology is an interesting one. If you have an interest in medical jobs, choosing to become a dermatologist might be the right career path for you.
What is a dermatologist? From answering this question to taking a closer look at the day-to-day of the job, Job Mail explores the exciting field of dermatology. Let’s get started.
What is a dermatologist?
A dermatologist is a skin specialist who specifically deals with and manages skin, nail, hair and other cosmetic problems. These specialists are qualified professionals who have completed a medical qualification and is specialised in dermatology.
What does a dermatologist do?
Once you completed the relevant degrees and dermatology courses, you will need to be licensed in order to practice. As a professional, your responsibilities and daily tasks will vary depending on the subspecialty they choose to focus on. However there are certain shared duties that most, if not all, professionals can expect to have.
Firstly you will be expected to provide consultations to patients visiting your practice. As a skin specialist, you will be required to offer consultation on skin related ailments to patients. This implies you must have good enough communication skills to be able to correctly diagnose a patient and communicate complicated medical jargon to patients in a clear and understandable way.
As a qualified dermatologist, you can expect patients to come into your consultation room with a lot of questions, if you are planning on pursuing this career expect to spend a lot of time carrying out research on treatments in your field.
Another duty you can expect to have is carrying out dermatological screening. This simply involves checking the patient’s body for skin problems or symptoms of impending problems. Some patients actually have routine screenings for preventative purposes and because of this you can expect to do this work quite often.
In certain instances examinations may reveal symptoms that require further testing. In these cases you may have to carry out tests on your patients in order to adequately diagnose their conditions.
There are several other duties you can expect to have as a dermatologist, including, but not limited to; educating your patients on how to protect themselves from things that damage their skin such as; stress, being overly exposed to the sun and living an unhealthy lifestyle.
You will prescribe medication to your patients as and when they need it and performing different dermatological procedures on patients in need of such treatment. Additionally, if you decide to pursue a career as a medical skin specialist, you will discover more duties that will challenge you and help you grow professionally.
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The tasks and types of treatments dermatologists perform
The list of tasks and treatments you can expect to administer as a dermatologist include:
- Acne scar revision
- The removal of varicose veins (Ambulatory phlebectomy)
- Correcting eyelid deformities/disfigurations (Blepharoplasty)
- Chemical peel
- Face Lift
- Hair Transplantation
- Laser Hair Removal
- Laser resurfacing
- Tattoo Removal
- Tissue tightening
This is not an all-inclusive list, on top of this, as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, the tests you will administer during your career as a skin specialist will constantly change. There are already new treatments that are being developed around Europe and America that will certainly shape the future of dermatology.
Where do dermatologists work?
As a dermatologist you can expect to work in the outpatient facilities in either private practice or large clinics, hospitals and other medical institutions. This is a people-centred job and you can expect to build long-term relations with some patients who will be regulars.
Unlike other specialised medical jobs, average dermatology work is not overly demanding time wise. You can expect to work an average of between 30 – 40 hours per week. However, you would be mistaken to believe that your salary will be as low as your working hours as dermatologist salary in South Africa is, on average, around R80 000 per month.
Medical degrees and dermatology courses
If you believe dermatology is the profession you want to pursue you will have to start off by pursuing a degree in medicine. If you are in matric you should focus on getting as many A’s as you can. There are a lot of people who apply to medical school so you have to make sure your grades are up to scratch. On top of getting good grades you should also try get into community service initiatives to bolster your chances of getting into medical school.
Once you get into a medical training programme and relevant dermatology courses, you will have to complete your degree. This will include theoretical training, a student internship, and practical work at a hospital and then pursue a post-graduate specialisation in dermatology where you will complete numerous dermatology courses.
This is certainly a long path that requires a lot of discipline but it is definitely worth it. Dermatology is a very lucrative career financially and it is a very fulfilling job. There are very few things more fulfilling than helping people with their health problems.
As a dermatologist you can expect to spend your entire career helping people with skin problems that have a detrimental effect on their health and confidence. You will build good long relations with your regular clients. If you are a people person you will be in constant contact with new patients and you will have a relatively stress free career.
What other benefits can you expect as a dermatologist?
As a dermatologist you can expect to have a lot of monetary and non-monetary career benefits. You will benefit from getting a sense of importance in the work you do- your work will constantly challenge you and new technologies will sweep through your profession offering new testing methods and practices and this will help you grow care.
In terms of income you will have revenue opportunities outside of your salary- you will have the option of selling skin care products and engaging in paying speaking engagements.