The skin is the largest organ of the body. Almost one person in five who consults a general practitioner will do so because of a skin complaint. While most cases are easily dealt with, the GP may decide to confirm a diagnosis or gain assistance with management. This is when the patient is referred to a dermatologist.
Dermatology is the medical science of diagnosing and treating skin diseases affecting the skin, hair, and nails.
Dermatologists are doctors, who have undertaken six or more years of university study to gain their medical degree. This is followed by training and practice as a junior hospital doctor for at least 2 years. Many doctors will also undertake scientific research into skin diseases or skin cancer during this time . In Australia, and many other countries, there is a comprehensive and competitive selection process to be accepted into the training scheme for dermatology. Once a doctor is selected they then undertake an additional four years of intensive supervised study, research, and clinical practice in approved training institutions such as the The Skin Hospital. During the training the candidates have to pass rigorous series of examinations to ensure that Australia produces the highest standard of dermatology specialist. After passing these exams the trainee obtains a Fellowship of the Australasian College of Dermatologists (FACD) and is qualified to practice as a dermatologist.
Qualified Dermatologists are expected to continue to maintain their professional standards and education. The Skin Hospital provides further education for Dermatologists and CPD points are provided through the Australasian College of Dermatologists.
Many dermatologists throughout Australia have been trained in skin cancer surgery. When patients require more extensive skin cancer surgery, they may be referred to a qualified Mohs surgeon. The training to become a qualified Mohs surgeon is a one-year fellowship, during which the dermatologist acquires extensive experience in all aspects of this advanced technique. The Skin Hospital is an accredited training facility for Mohs Surgery Fellows.
Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases including skin cancer, atopic eczema, acne, vitiligo, psoriasis, alopecia areata, vitiligo and pigmentary conditions and occupational dermatitis. Also, given their intimate skin knowledge and medical science training, dermatologists are uniquely placed to deliver effective and safe cosmetic services (e.g. laser and light therapy, muscle relaxants, fillers).
While some Dermatologists will consult on all general dermatology others may undertake further training, study and research to become experts in a dermatology subspecialty such as: Paediatric Dermatology, Allergy Patch Testing, advanced surgical techniques , and Laser & Cosmetic Dermatology.
Before your visit with your Dermatologist you need to have a referral from your GP (or another specialist) if you wish to get a rebate back from Medicare.