What they do
Dermatologists specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin, nail and hair disease. They employ an array of treatments, from topical and oral medications to intricate surgical procedures, lasers, light and ionizing radiation. Dermatology is very 'visual' as the outcomes of treatment are obvious to both patient and physician, and can be a source of great satisfaction for both parties.
Dermatologists either work in private practice and/or attend clinics at major teaching hospitals and institutions. A small number have full-time positions in major hospitals and institutions. Dermatologists rarely attend emergencies or have on-call responsibilities. There is a high level of patient contact and in many cases long-term ongoing care for patients with chronic skin conditions.
Tools and technologies
Dermatologists need to be familiar with advances in ultraviolet light therapy, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy and drug treatment. Advances in genetics, molecular biology, pathology and immunology have also assisted dermatologists in the diagnosis and treatment over the past few years.
Although many skin diseases can be treated with topical therapy, such as creams and lotions, in Australia today, surgery is widely used by dermatologists in the treatment of skin cancers, including melanomas. Radiotherapy is also utilised by dermatologists in the treatment of skin cancers.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a dermatologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in dermatology.
To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.
Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
To specialise in dermatology, doctors can apply to the Australasian College of Dermatology (ACD) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.
To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).
Required registration and licensing
To work as a dermatologist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.