Do you have an interest in helping individuals with skin problems? Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in body? Maintaining healthy skin is very important as it is the first line of defense against infection. If this interests you, you might want to consider becoming a dermatologist. Being a dermatologist will allow you the ability to diagnose and treat skin conditions. The schooling is quite extensive because you will become a physician so you’re looking at a minimum of 11 years of college. You’ll need 4 years undergraduate work with 2 years of pre-med coursework, 4 years of graduate work and probably 3 years of internship (residency). You’ll need to work hard and of course having a deep interest in skin care should help you through.
Just a heads up, becoming any king of doctor is not something you should think of at a moments notice. In reality, you should have some sense of knowing in grade school that you
want to be a doctor. Not always, however that’s best. You need good grades in science courses and math in high school and do very well on college entrance exams (SAT/ACT). Developing good study habits in high school will prepare you for college. You’ll struggle less and keep stress to a minimum. Doing well in high school will allow you to get into a better undergraduate college and med school and this will help you get a good residency. All of this is important for your success as a physician.
You’ll need to apply to a 4 year university or possibly a community college (if that’s what you have locally). Check with the med school you plan to attend to make sure you fulfill all the prerequisites at the undergrad level. In some instances you don’t have to take pre-med coursework but rather complete core courses relating to med school. Medical schools have broadened their horizons somewhat and have realized that it’s good to have people with other backgrounds such as humanities, sociology and possibly languages. So if you’re already in college and have background in those areas, it is possible for you to change over to a med program. Talk with your counselors to find out what is available. Nevertheless, students who want to become doctors generally major in biology and take math, physics and chemistry along with English composition, English literature and some other courses such as history, world religions, psychology etc. The English courses are important because they are a large part of the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Before you take your MCAT, check the med school you plan to attend to find out the lowest score they accept. It’s also a good idea to take your MCAT during your undergraduate work so in case you don’t do well you can take it again. Always practice for the MCAT before you take it. Don’t walk in cold. Booklets are available (or online) that contain previous exams that you can time yourself on. Each exam has a solutions area that explains each question. Make sure you understand what you got wrong.
Once you have finished your undergrad work and taken your MCAT, you’ll need to apply to a med school. You’ll need a letter of intent and letters of recommendation. If the med school sees you as interesting, they will call you for an interview. Hopefully, they like you and will admitt you. Now you begin med school. You’ll need to determine whether you want an MD or DO degree. You’ll need this before you enter dermatology residency. Med school is 4 years long and your first two years will be coursework and the last two years will be doing clinical rotations (hands-on training). In your last year of med school, you’ll need to choose your specialty. This is what you will focus on in residency.
To get into residency, you’ll need to take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). If you’re not in the U.S., you’ll need to find out what they require in your country. This is a critical exam and you need to make the best possible score to continue. The test comes in 3 parts. The first part is taken in your 2nd year of med school, the second part is taken in the fourth year of med school and the 3rd part is taken in your 1st or 2nd year of post-grad training (residency).
You’ll need to find a residency program and the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) will help you do that. You’ll be interviewed by some hospitals and at the end of the day you both fill out who you want to work with. If it turn’s out that you are on each other’s list, then you get the position. It’s possible that you will have multiple offers. Excellent.
Now you’re ready to start your dermatology residency. You may be required to complete a one year internship prior to entering actual residency. Once you finish your residency, you’ll need to take your boards. This is a certification by the American Boards of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology. You then become a board-certified dermatologist. Now you need to get your medical license and this varies by state if you are in the U.S. Hopefully, you pass and you’ll need to retake this exam every 10 years and of course take continuing medical education (CME) to keep you up to date. Congratulations!
Now’s time to find employment and there are a number of venues available to you which includes clinics, labs, hospitals and much more. You could even set up your own private practice.
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