To paraphrase John Donne, “No dermatologist is an island.” A dermatologist needs help in his practice in several areas, from medical assistance such as that rendered by a physician assistant to nursing support by a registered nurse. He may also need the services of a medical assistant and a secretary or administrative assistant. Each of these individuals provides a different kind of support.
Dermatology Physician Assistant
If medicine is your idea of a good career but you don’t want to be a doctor, consider becoming a physician assistant, called a PA. These professionals are allowed to perform medical tasks under the supervision of a physician, such as making a medical diagnosis or prescribing medications. A physician assistant must have both a bachelor’s degree and some hands-on experience in the health care field to enter a training program, from which she graduates with the equivalent of a master’s degree, accroding to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. PA training is in general medicine, so a PA who wants to specialize in dermatology can either look for on-the-job training with a dermatologist or enter a residency training program in the specialty. There are two such programs in the U. S., according to the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. PAs must be licensed and may be certified.
RNs in Dermatology
If you want to become an registered nurse, start by choosing your basic level of education: an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a nursing diploma. You can also go on for advanced training at the master’s or doctorate level. Once you’ve finished your education, you must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. All states require that RNs must be licensed, but certification is optional. You’ll probably get your dermatology training on the job, according to a Spring 2006 article in “Minority Nurse,” or from specialty organizations such as the Dermatology Nurses’ Association. A registered nurse who works in dermatology may help treat wounds, perform esthetic procedures such as skin peels, screen patients for skin cancer, and change complicated dressings, according to Discover Nursing, a health care careers website.
A medical assistant, commonly called an MA, is invaluable to a dermatologist, according to a December 2006 article on the DermQuest.com website, if for no other reason than her time management skills. An MA may need surgical skills if the dermatologist performs procedures in his office. She helps the doctor stay on schedule by performing a wide variety of support tasks that can range from patient education to medication administration to laboratory procedures. Although many medical assistants have formal training, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MAs can also be trained on the job. Some MAs may also have front-office skills, such as billing. Certification is optional for MAs, who are unlicensed support staff.
A medical secretary, or an administrative assistant, can perform the myriad tasks related to health care paperwork for a dermatologist. In addition to typical secretarial tasks such as answering the phone, a medical secretary may manage the medical records in the office, transcribe dictation, or arrange for hospitalization when necessary. The secretary may schedule patient appointments or even take a simple medical history. Some medical secretaries may also perform insurance billing. Medical secretaries may have only a high school diploma or may have an associate or bachelor’s degree. They must be familiar with medical terminology, insurance rules, billing practices, and hospital or laboratory procedures.
- PoemHunter.com: No Man is an Island
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physician Assistants
- Discover Nursing: Dermatology Nurse
- Minority Nurse: Culture Is Skin Deep
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.