WHAT IS DERMATOLOGY?

Dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with the skin and its diseases, a unique specialty with both medical and surgical aspects. A dermatologist takes care of diseases, in the widest sense, and some cosmetic problems of the skin, scalp, hair, and nails.

History

Readily visible alterations of the skin surface have been recognized since the dawn of history, with some being treated, and some not. In 1801, the first great school of dermatology became a reality at the famous Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, while the first textbooks (Willan’s, 1798–1808) and atlases (Alibert’s, 1806–1814) appeared in print during the same period of time. In 1952, Dermatology was greatly advanced by Dr. Norman Orentreich’s pioneering work in hair transplantation.

Training

After earning a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.), the length of training for a general dermatologist in the United States is a total of four years. This training consists of an initial medical or surgical intern year, followed by a three-year dermatology residency. Following this training, one- or two- year post-residency fellowships are available in immunodermatology, phototherapy, laser medicine, Mohs micrographic surgery, pediatric dermatology, cosmetic surgery or dermatopathology. For the past several decades, dermatology residency positions in the United States have been one of the most competitive to obtain.