The complete guide to becoming a Dermatologist

The complete guide to becoming a Dermatologist

Jul 29, 2020.

Caring for the body’s largest organ, a Dermatologist has a large part to play in healthcare. In this blog post, we share what exactly a Dermatologist does, how to become a Dermatologist with the NHS, and a true insight with some pros and cons of the specialty.


What is a Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are doctors who specialise in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the hair, skin, nails, sweat and oil glands and mucus membranes. For example, a Dermatologist would treat conditions such as psoriasis, acne, drug rashes to cancer. Dermatology patients can range from any age; from babies to the elderly, keeping their work varied and interesting!

With 24% of annual GP visits being for skin problems, Dermatologists have the knowledge and expertise to significantly improve a person’s confidence and ultimately, their quality of life.

As with most medical specialties, there are several subspecialties available in Dermatology:

  • Cosmetic Dermatology
  • Medical Dermatology
  • Dermatopathology
  • Immunodermatology
  • Paediatric Dermatology
  • Teledermatology
  • and more!

As a doctor who has specialised in Dermatology, you’ll be required to have manual dexterity, good clinical diagnostic skills, excellent communication skills and a strong commitment to cascading knowledge and skills to both patients and colleagues.


Our Guide to Becoming a Dermatologist

Step 1: Obtain your Medical Undergraduate Degree

Prospective Dermatologists need to begin their journey by undertaking a medical undergraduate degree, to obtain all the practical, theoretical and communication skills needed to become a talented, safe and ethical doctor.

Most UK medical undergraduate degrees are typically 4-6 years in length;

  • Two years of pre-clinical training in an academic environment
  • And two to three-years of clinical training at a university teaching hospital in a community setting

In the UK, medical schools and teaching hospitals are always closely integrated and so, placement will be arranged by your medical school. The course of study is extended to six years if an intercalated degree is taken in a related subject.

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Step 2: Complete your Foundation Year Training (FY1 & FY2)

Once your undergraduate degree is completed, congratulations you are now a qualified doctor! The next step requires you to complete your two-year Foundation Training Programme – being your first paid job as a doctor! Your foundation training requires you to complete two years, FY1 and FY2. After successful completion of FY1, you’ll be required to register with the General Medical Council.

Your Foundation Programme usually involves six different rotations in medical and surgical specialties. These rotations will give you an insight into the various specialties, allowing you the opportunity to develop basic clinical and non-clinical skills such as communication and teamwork.

Depending on what hospital you work at, you may not have been given the opportunity to rotate within Dermatology. Instead, it’s essential that you obtain a clinical observership during your annual leave for two reasons:

  1. It will give you a true insight into the specialty, helping you decide if you truly want to pursue it as your career!
  2. It will strengthen your training post application (as they can be competitive depending on your ideal location within the UK).

Towards the end of your foundation years, if Dermatology is still the specialty for you… It’s time to apply for that all exciting Core Medical training post via Oriel (and then apply for Dermatology Specialty Training ST3+ after this!)

Step 3: Complete your Specialty Training Post

Becoming a Dermatologist means you’ll be practicing a medical specialty, you’ll be required to complete some form of core training prior to going into Dermatology specialty training at ST3+ level. Post-foundation years, you’ll have three options available to you:

  1. Core Medical Training (CMT) – CT1-2
  2. Acute Care Common Stem (CT1-3) – ACCS (Acute Medicine)
  3. Paediatrics – ST1-3 you must also have achieved the same core medical training competencies that would be expected after 12-months training in adult medicine posts

The Core Medical Training programmes typically only take two-years to complete and three in the case of the ACCS and Paediatrics. When it comes to applying for ST3+ Dermatology, by this point you must have obtained your Royal College Qualification, MRCP to help demonstrate your specialist knowledge and skills.

Once you have reached ST3+ level, the training can take a minimum of four-years. If you want to achieve a CCT in General Internal Medicine in addition to a CCT in Dermatology, then you must apply for a dual training programme from the outset.

Click here to view the Dermatology specialty training curriculum! Good luck!

Dermatology is a specialty that can offer you daily variety and the opportunity to truly transform someone’s life but, to give a broad overview of what to expect have a read of Dermatology’s pros and cons…

Pros of specialising in Dermatology
  • Offers access to a wide variety of clinical cases
  • Fantastic work/life balance
  • No general medicine required
  • Opportunity to work remotely
Cons of specialising in Dermatology
  • Outpatient-based specialty
  • Large quantity of telephone appointments
  • Big jump in clinical responsibility from Core Medical Training
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