PA dermatology is a specialty that’s rising in popularity. Although there are few postgraduate training programs for dermatology PAs, you can still pursue this specialty as a new PA grad and gain some experience in the field. As a PA specialty, though, dermatology is one of the most competitive for its ample job opportunities, high pay and high job satisfaction. To become a dermatology PA, you’ll first need to and start your training. In this blog, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the PA dermatology specialty and tips on how to get into the specialty.
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There are only a handful of PA dermatology postgraduate training programs in the US, and no specialized training programs in Canada. On top of that, these programs often accept only ONE fellow or resident per year. This means the PA dermatology specialty in both countries is extremely competitive! Much like medical programs.
- – A 1-year, non-ACGME-accredited program for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
- – A 1-year advanced practice fellowship program for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
If you’re interested in a PA dermatology residency or fellowship program, you will have your work cut out for you. The specialty is extremely competitive in general, but even more so for physician assistants due to the very small number of available positions. Getting one of the is a great option if you want to further your training as a PA and work in a specific , but it’s a good idea to learn more about your desired specialty first.
PA dermatology has been a growing specialty in recent years, mostly because PA dermatologists fill a significant gap in patient care caused by a rising need for skin care and an insufficient number of dermatological specialized physicians. PA graduates have become increasingly interested in the field of dermatology and have contributed meaningfully to improving and expanding dermatological patient care.
Physician assistants who are interested in specializing in dermatology can choose to take elective rotations in the specialty during their second year of PA school. While dermatology is not a typical rotation, you have the option to take it as an elective and receive some foundational training in the specialty. Once you’ve graduated, you can apply to one of these PA postgraduate training programs in dermatology and receive more in-depth training in the specialty. Of course, if you find a PA position at a dermatologist’s office or clinic, you can expect to receive ongoing training in the specialty under the supervision of the lead dermatologist.
PA dermatologists are also among some of the highest paid PA specialists. On average, the salary for a PA dermatology specialist is $160,000, since there is a large demand for this type of physician assistant specialist. Of course, you won’t be making as much as a dermatologist, but you’ll spend significantly less time in school and can get started in a career in dermatology much sooner.
Another big pro of dermatology as a medical specialty, and this extends to dermatology PAs, is a high level of job satisfaction. PAs in general report a high level of job satisfaction, especially when comparing . Dermatology as a specialty also rates highly on quality of life and work-life balance. So while the job is not without its stresses and cons, becoming a dermatology PA is a good career choice for PA school graduates.
PA dermatologists have a variety of job responsibilities. They assist a supervising dermatologist in treating patients with many different kinds of skin conditions and diseases, both medically and surgically.
PA dermatology specialists operate under the supervision of a dermatologist, reporting to and collaborating with them on patient care. PA dermatologists can perform physical exams, prescribe medication, diagnose patients, and educate them on preventative care. While the role of a PA dermatologist can vary depending on state regulations, their level of experience and training, they can operate as independent dermatological care providers for patients.
Here are some of the key responsibilities of a dermatology PA:
- Take patient histories and maintain patient records
- Examine patients and diagnose skin conditions
- Perform physical examinations
- Order tests and analyze lab results
- Prescribe medication to patients
- Discuss preventative care and skin health education
- Developing patient treatment plans
- Assist in dermatological surgery
- Perform non-invasive procedures
- Laser therapy treatments
- Minor cosmetic treatments
When first starting out as a dermatology PA, it’s likely you’ll be undergoing a training period to expand the knowledge and skills you’ve learned in PA school. Of course, if you’ve completed a PA dermatology postgraduate program, such as a dermatology residency or fellowship, you may be given more responsibility at the start of your career.
As a dermatology PA, there are also a number of different sub-specialties you can pursue:
If you want to become a PA dermatology specialist, you’ll need to either apply for a postgraduate PA residency or fellowship program in dermatology or apply for PA dermatology positions once you’ve graduated and completed your PANCE. Either way, you’ll need an excellent application package and a stellar resume. You’ll also need to be prepared for .
How long does it take to become a PA dermatologist?
Most PA residency or fellowship programs are 1 year long. Added to how long PA school is and completing your bachelor’s degree, you’re looking at 6 years to become a fully fledged PA dermatologist.
Should I apply for a PA dermatology residency or fellowship?
While it’s not a strict requirement to become a PA specializing in dermatology, enrolling in and completing a residency or fellowship program can be an asset during the job search. Postgraduate training for PAs can be an advantage in expanding your experience and skills in the field of dermatology, making you more hireable and confident.
Because dermatology PA residency programs are so few and extremely competitive, you should carefully consider the decision ahead of time. Many PAs apply for jobs in their specialty after graduating and start with on-the-job training, but if you want to subspecialize or streamline your training, a postgrad program can be helpful.
Ultimately, you should weigh the job opportunities in PA dermatology in your location, your level of experience in dermatology as a PA, the cost of a postgrad program and your own career goals.
When should I apply to PA dermatology residency programs?
The deadline for PA dermatology residency programs is usually in the fall, so it’s best to start preparing your application in the final year of PA school. Make sure to check the application requirements of the program you’re applying to and give yourself plenty of time to gather all the application materials. The application window may be brief, so it’s best to submit your application as early as possible when it opens.
How do I apply to PA dermatology residency programs?
Applications to PA dermatology residency and fellowship programs are usually submitted through the attached medical school or institution. Check the individual websites for instructions on applying online, and for the application requirements. Some common application materials you’ll need to submit are a , recommendation letters from a current or past supervisor and an updated .
How do I increase my chances of getting a PA dermatology spot?
1. Take a dermatology elective
The first thing you can do if you’re interested in pursuing dermatology as a PA specialty is to take a dermatological rotation as an elective during PA school. Most PA schools don’t have dermatology as a common core rotation, so you may need to explore your options for electives. This will be your quickest option to not only gain some understanding of the specialty as a PA but to start making connections with dermatologists and dermatology PAs.
2. Gain some experience as a PA
It’s a good idea to gain some experience as a new PA grad before transition to dermatology. Some positions may ask for prior experience in dermatology before hiring you, but for the most part PAs will receive on the job training. Some new grads will start working in a different specialty to get a bit of work experience before switching to dermatology.
3. Use your professional network
The most important piece of advice for new PAs to find work: use your professional contacts. Build relationships with dermatologists and dermatology PAs, attend events and conferences in your field, and get involved in dermatological associations. Most potential jobs and information will come to you directly through your network contacts, not your job search. Many PAs even find jobs before they’ve graduated from physicians they’ve worked with during their rotations.
4. Look for opportunities
While you’re still in PA school and even on your days off once you’re in the work force, keep looking for opportunities to gain experience and add to your knowledge. For instance, you can still seek out opportunities for shadowing or physician assistant training. There are some smaller training programs for new PA grads that are shorter than a formal, postgraduate training program but offered by PA schools.
5. Research the specialty
Throughout school and your career, keep up with the latest news in dermatology. Read often and widely about the specialty, and keep yourself up to date on new developments and trends.
6. Be patient and flexible
Lastly, be patient and flexible in your job search for a dermatology PA position. It may take some time, but use your resources and your contacts to keep looking for an ideal position. When opportunities come up, remain flexible and committed. Most physicians will be more than happy to provide you with on-the-job training as a PA, but each clinic is unique, so be ready to assimilate into a new working environment.
1. What is a PA dermatologist?
A PA dermatologist is a physician assistant who has received additional specialty training or specialized in the field of dermatology.
2. How much do PA dermatology specialists make?
On average, PA dermatology specialists make $160,000+ a year, making it one of the highest paid PA specialties.
3. What does a PA dermatology specialist do?
A PA dermatologist can provide many of the same treatments as a dermatologist, from assisting in surgery to evaluating and diagnosing skin conditions. They may also perform non-invasive procedures, perform physical examinations and prescribe medication, depending on state laws and their level of care experience.
4. How do you become a PA dermatology specialist?
To become a PA dermatology specialist, you’ll first need to complete 2 years of PA school and graduate from an accredited program. During your second year, it’s recommended to take a dermatology rotation to gain experience in the specialty. Once you’ve graduated and have completed your PA licensure exams, you can choose to enroll in a PA dermatology postgraduate training program to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the discipline.
5. How long does it take to become a PA dermatology specialist?
Most PA dermatology training programs are 1 year long, so it will take you an average of 3 years to become a PA dermatologist after finishing PA school. Including the completion of your bachelor’s degree, you can expect to spend 6-7 years becoming a dermatological PA.
6. How competitive is PA dermatology?
PA dermatology is one of the most competitive PA specialties. This is due to the low number of available postgraduate PA dermatology training programs, the small number of available seats in these programs and the high demand for dermatological care providers.
7. What can a dermatology PA not do?
One thing a dermatology PA does not do is operate unsupervised. In most states, PAs are under the direct supervision of a practicing physician. While the roles of a dermatology PA can therefore vary by state, and they can operate independently on dermatological patients in some cases, they always report to and consult with a dermatologist.
8. Which state is best for dermatology PA?
While the best state for dermatology PAs can vary depending on a number of factors, some of the highest paying states for dermatology PAs are Nevada, Oregon and Massachusetts, while some of the best states for PAs in general are Vermont, New York and Connecticut.