Dermatologist Education & Training

A dermatologist is a physician certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) to treat conditions and diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.

  • The candidate must have graduated from an accredited medical or osteopathic school in the United States. If graduated from a foreign medical school, the standard foreign graduate certificate must have been obtained.
  • The candidate must have completed a first-year residency program of broad-based clinical training in one of the following areas: internal medicine, general surgery, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, or emergency medicine.
  • The candidate must have completed a 3-year accredited dermatology residency program. At least 75 percent of the resident's time must be directly related to outpatient or inpatient dermatology patient care during each of the 3 years. Training must be completed within 5 years.

The dermatology residency program should include study of basic sciences: allergy, anatomy, bacteriology, biochemistry, embryology, entomology, genetics, histology, immunology, molecular biology, mycology, oncology, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology, photobiology, physiology, serology, virology. Dermatologic microbiology, dermatopathology, and immunodermatology should be emphasized.

Experience should be gained in analysis and interpretation of biologic and histologic specimens, and in culturing microbes (i.e., fungi, bacteria, viruses).

Training must be obtained in skin allergy, immunology, and sexually transmitted diseases, and in the relevant aspects of environmental and industrial medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, radiology, and surgery.

Knowledge and competence should be acquired in performing dermatologic surgery, laser surgery, cryosurgery, and procedures in allergy and immunology, clinical pathology, parasitology, dermatopathology, topical and systemic pharmacotherapy, and microbiology (including sexually transmitted diseases). Dermatologic surgical training must include: anesthesia, electrosurgery, cryosurgery, laser surgery, nail surgery, biopsy, and excisional surgery.

Experience in outpatient service as well as inpatient, daycare, and extended care facilities is essential for opportunities to treat serious diseases daily, perform follow-up care, and to provide consultation for patients whose skin diseases are secondary to other types of conditions.

Understanding of the many diagnostic procedures and therapeutic techniques is required, including: chemical peel, dermabrasion, hair transplantation, laser resurfacing, liposuction, sclerotherapy, and tissue augmentation. Understanding of the disease implications and therapeutic applications of electron beam, x-ray, and laser energy is necessary.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015