If you're passionate about skincare and determined to pursue a career in dermatology, the first step is to complete an undergraduate program, as most medical schools won't accept applicants without a bachelor's degree. While you have the freedom to choose any major you wish, some subjects will better prepare you for medical school and your future career as a dermatologist.
Pre-med programs include courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics and English, all of which are required to get into medical school. A pre-med program neatly combines all the required courses and is a popular major option for aspiring doctors. However, a pre-med major is extremely limiting; after graduation, continuing on to medical school may be one of the only options you have with this degree. Most medical schools advise against a pre-med major and instead encourage students to pursue studies in a subject they enjoy, so long as they take the required classes for med school admission.
Most aspiring doctors pursue an undergraduate degree in one of the sciences, with biology being the most common. As an aspiring dermatologist, you can benefit greatly from majoring in biology or chemistry, as both will influence your work directly when you become a doctor. Biology courses -- particularly in cellular biology and human biology -- teach you how the skin works. Chemistry courses help you understand the chemicals and compounds used in medications you prescribe to patients. Most undergraduate programs in biology, physics and chemistry require coursework in all three disciplines plus English, making science an ideal major option for satisfying medical school admission requirements. And if you decide you don't want to be a dermatologist, a degree in any of these areas leads to plenty of open doors in other career fields.
During your junior year of college you will take the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, an exam that tests your readiness for medical school. A significant portion of the test is devoted to verbal reasoning and writing, so the better your English skills the higher you're likely to score. Remember, medical schools weigh your score heavily when deciding to accept your application. A degree in English will prepare you for the written portion of the MCAT, as well as the many research papers you'll write in medical school and the medical terms you'll need to remember. The general studies portion of an English degree may satisfy the core requirements you need for medical school, but you may need to supplement your education with science electives.
Many colleges are beginning to recognize that people have a wide variety of interests and passions, and have started offering interdisciplinary studies as an undergraduate major. This program puts you in charge of your education and allows you to choose the classes you take to cater your degree to fit your goals. As an aspiring dermatologist, you could arrange your interdisciplinary studies degree to include all of the required science and English courses for medical school, as well as classes in humanities, liberal arts and communication. This provides a well-rounded skill set that will benefit you greatly once you become a doctor.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicians and Surgeons
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Admission Requirements
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Specialty Information -- Dermatology
- Gustavus Adolphus College: Advice for Pre-Med Students
- The University of Utah Department of Biology: Programs of Study
- University of California Berkeley: Interdisciplinary Studies