Dermatologists are specialised hospital doctors. They treat patients with a wide variety of skin, hair and nail conditions.
They are an important part of the health family of the UK. Most dermatologists usually work in hospitals run by the National Health Service (NHS). Some may also work in private hospitals, but this is much less common.
Skin medicine is an increasingly popular and important part of health care. This is because the amount of skin cancer in the population continues to grow.
A shortage of dermatologists and other senior health professionals in recent years worth knowing. As a consequence, being a dermatologist is increasingly well-regarded and well-paid.
What Does a Dermatologist Do
Dermatologists deal with around 2000 different skin conditions that affect all ages of the population. These include skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis, acne and severe drug rashes.
Dermatologists can specialise in a wide range of fields including:
- Advanced skin surgery and Mohs’ micrographic surgery.
- Paediatric dermatology.
- Cutaneous allergy and immunology.
- Advanced medical dermatology.
- Photodermatoses and photobiology.
- Oral and genital dermatoses.
- Hair and nails.
- Cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology.
You would also work with the wider healthcare family, including oncologists who deal with cancer.
Dermatologist Specific Activities
Dermatologists are expected to play a leading role in the following activities:
- Removing skin cancers.
- Diagnostic biopsies.
- UV light therapy for inflammatory dermatoses.
- Contact dermatitis investigation.
- Examining and diagnosing skin conditions using a dermatoscope.
- Intralesional injections (for example steroid, botulinum toxin).
- Cryosurgery for precancerous or benign skin lesions.
Who Employs Dermatologists
In most circumstances, dermatologists in the UK work within NHS hospitals. All jobs a dermatologist does through their NHS employment will be delivered free to the public. They are classed as public sector workers.
A small number of dermatologists will also work in private hospitals. These types of dermatologists will be classified as private-sector workers.
Job Salary for a Dermatologist
Dermatologist salaries can vary quite significantly depending on a dermatologist’s experience and seniority. Here are three indications of different salary levels per year in England:
- Basic junior doctor – £29,384 to £34,012.
- Speciality training as a dermatologist – £40,257 at minimum
- Consultant dermatologists (senior doctors) – £84,559 to £114,003.
Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year.
Geographic Weightings in Pay
Some dermatologists get additional pay to help them with the cost of living in areas where things cost more. Recent examples of the three geographical weightings are calculated as follows:
- Inner London: 20% of basic salary, subject to a minimum payment of £4,888 and a maximum payment of £7,377.
- Outer London: 15% of basic salary, subject to a minimum payment of £4,108 and a maximum payment of £5,177.
- Fringe: 5% of basic salary, subject to a minimum payment of £1,136 and a maximum payment of £1,915.
How Often is a Dermatologist Normally Paid
Dermatologists can normally expect to be paid a salary every month. This is the standard method of payment for employees of the NHS.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Dermatologist
The salary levels of dermatologists are set through negotiations between the governments in different parts of the UK. For example, the UK Government negotiates with dermatologists and other doctors in England.
What Sort of Contracts Do Dermatologists Have
Dermatologists will have set contracts with the NHS. All of these contracts will guarantee a minimum number of hours per week.
After completion of the training, dermatologists’ pay increases significantly. Those working as consultants may also sometimes work outside the NHS for additional income. Private sector consultancy often pays better than the NHS.
Further, additional payments based on geographic weightings to deal with higher costs of living also exist for those living in London and the surrounding area.
Additional benefits of being a dermatologist are:
- Potential for a high income early in your career.
- Excellent pension scheme.
- Good holiday entitlement.
How to Become a Dermatologist
Understanding the educational and training requirements to become a dermatologist is important if you want to become one. You will need to have a medical degree first. Once this done, you then need to take additional training within the NHS for a number of years.
Qualifications/Courses – Dermatologist
In order to become a dermatologist you will first need to get a degree in medicine. To study medicine you will need three A or A* passes at A level including chemistry. An undergraduate degree in medicine takes around five years to complete.
Additionally, many people who apply for a course in medicine are asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT).
Voluntary work experience is also desirable. Indeed, the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors, also encourages you to have some relevant paid or voluntary work experience before applying to a medical school at an university.
Once you have a degree, you then need to join the paid two-year foundation programme. In addition, you will need to secure a place as a trainee dermatologist. Most have to work in six placements in different settings.
After you have completed a foundation programme, more study is required. The next step is that you then need to apply for paid speciality training to become a dermatologist. Usually this will take a minimum of six or seven years.
Most of your study will be within a clinical placement being taught by experienced dermatologists. This learning will be supported by access to teaching and learning materials.
General Skills Required
- A dermatologist must have the willingness to learn about human anatomy. As a consequence, you must be prepared to keep learning about new issues in medicine throughout your working life.
- Strong emotional resilience is needed. Additionally, you will need a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure.
- Excellent communication skills are needed. This because you will be working with a wide variety of different people from different walks of life. Additionally, there will usually be a wide variety of ages. As part of this you will liaise with the families of patients as well as the patient themselves.
- You will also need to be able to put patients at their ease and gain their confidence. For example, this includes the ability to work sensitively and constructively with patient fears.
- Excellent problem-solving and diagnostic skills are needed by a dermatologist.
- You must be a good team player. This means having the ability to work constructively with others carrying out aligned tasks in healthcare.
- Some computer literacy to record information relating to patients.
- Confidentiality relating to patient records.
- A clean Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required for people who become dermatologists. This is because you will be working with children and vulnerable adults.
Mechanical Skills Required
A dermatologist will need to be able to operate all of the dermatological apparatus needed to support the health of a patient. This will include operating UV light therapy machines. Additionally, you will need to use a dermatoscope and be skilled in examining biopsies.
Challenges of Being a Dermatologist
- Any aspect of health care is challenging for all the professionals involved. But being a dermatologist can be especially challenging because of the severity and seriousness of the illnesses of patients. This includes forms of cancer.
- Maintaining a professional outlook which treats the public with respect. For example, no matter how difficult a patient is being, being respectful is essential.
- You will always need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.
- Exposure to unpleasant sights and smells is part of the job.
- You must always be prepared for the unexpected. Having this approach is essential because the work can be exciting but also challenging at times.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- A person with a commitment to the values of the NHS.
- Someone who can apply problem-solving is essential. For example, you will need to exercise diagnostic skills with confidence.
- A person with a genuine interest in healthcare and, in particular, the treatment of serious skin conditions.
- Someone with a calm and patient outlook makes a good dermatologists. For example, you must have the ability to deal with stress.
- A team player who can work with direction from more senior team members. Additionally, if you are promoted to team leader then you should be able to demonstrate the capacity to lead multidisciplinary teams.
- Someone willing to learn as their career progresses and they build up a specialism is desirable.
- A responsible person who is dedicated to the care of a patient for the duration of their treatment.
General Expected Working Hours
As a dermatologist, you can expect to work at least a 50-hour week. Another factor is that the dates of your work often changing.
Location of Work
The majority of dermatologists usually work in hospitals run by the National Health Service (NHS). Some may also work in private hospitals. But this is much less common.
Some dermatologists are also based in primary care health centres. Additionally, you might also work from General Practitioner (GP) surgeries.
It is possible to build a successful and well-paid career as a dermatologist. For example, many dermatologists become skin surgeons as well as a skin doctors. As a skin surgeon, you will likely work in an operating theatre at least once a week.
As your career progresses, you may become a consultant dermatologist. This means you will have the responsibility to lead a large multidisciplinary team and cross-consult with other specialists.
The progression from junior doctor to consultant dermatologist is a steep one. Nevertheless, it is one that many dermatologists achieve. Because of the shortage of dermatologists, promotion prospects may well be increased. Alternatively, other careers in medicine may also open up.