(Responses from Physician Assistants Practicing in Dermatology Settings)


...BECAUSE dermatology gives me the opportunity to combine my skills in primary care and surgery. Proper identification of a dermatological condition is similar to solving a mystery. Taking a thorough history (gathering clues) and doing a complete head- to-toe assessment of the skin (examining the crime scene) is required to determine the etiology (find the culprit). And the results of proper treatment will often provide significant relief, both physically and emotionally. Since many internal conditions may present with external signs, quick recognition of skin disorders will often aid in identification of underlying disease. The integument is a fascinating organ, capable of withstanding a large amount of abuse. I use every opportunity to counsel patients on taking better care of it. And if they don't, I get to have more fun playing detective.

 ...BECAUSE being able to see what you are treating makes treatment much more rewarding than heart, stomach, etc. Watching the rash clear or clearing a skin cancer; and not seeing really "sick" patients all the time.

 ...BECAUSE of the daily "detective" work. The challenge of seeing and diagnosing a "rash," treating it for that particular condition and then finding out it is something totally unrelated, after doing a biopsy. I also love it because my Internists call on me frequently for derm consults.

 ...BECAUSE of the satisfaction of coincidentally finding melanomas in patients that come in for a skin cancer or mole check. The earlier detection, the better chances...

 ...BECAUSE derm offers some of the greatest challenges along with some of the most straight forward answers. The variety of cases presenting day-to-day is very satisfying. I never get bored with it. There are many opportunities to effect great benefit for patients with very simple treatment regimens. The teaching opportunities are also very diverse and satisfying. Office hours are pretty good too, as little on-call work presents itself and when it does, you know you are there because it is a real necessity. I personally love the opportunity for minor surgery and the opportunity to perform excellent cosmetic procedures (love those comments from satisfied customers). Thanks for the opportunity to praise this specialty.

 ...BECAUSE, from the time I rotated through clinicals as a PA, I have had a love for Dermatology. I am not sure if it was the challenge of the names of the different diagnoses or the gratification of actually seeing the results of treatment. As a Surgery Tech in the military, I always enjoyed surgery, and when you combine Clinical Dermatology and Derm Surgery, you have the perfect match. I am very fortunate that I work for a dermatologist who gives me the opportunity to use my skills in the clinical as well as the surgical aspect of practice. Dermatology for the most part is not life and death, but the joy of seeing a patient who had severe cystic acne after treatment with Accutane or the patient who has healed after derm surgery for a potentially disfiguring skin cancer is most gratifying. I cannot think of any other discipline of medicine which could be this much fun!

 ...BECAUSE dermatology is a practice where you are able to significantly improve or cure most conditions. It is a specialty area that most physicians have very little knowledge of and I enjoy seeing their referrals. The practice includes a wide array of surgical procedures; it allows me to see patients of all ages, from babies to geriatrics; and I have the opportunity to educate patients. I sleep well at night, (there are very few Derm emergencies), and the monetary compensation has been excellent.

 ...BECAUSE I love the mystery of dermatology. When I read a complaint that says rash for three days, I have no idea what I will find when I walk through the door. Even if the rash is something common, it will often intrigue by being atypical or inverse or by offering some other false clue. The solution found by a sudden flash of insight or by dogged persistence helps atone for the frustration of the inevitable unsolved (as yet) case. How can you not love something that continues to surprise and delight you day after day?

 ...BECAUSE it allows me to express my intuitive side; because it beats coughs, colds, and hypertension problems; because there's a nice mix of medicine and surgery; because derm is so involved/deep/wide as a discipline, you can't even begin to master it--I love learning new things all the time; because it is visually oriented; because more study (pictures/slides) pays off immediately; because patients, especially melanoma patients, are so appreciative of your help; because there's more to derm than warts, acne and toenails. I believe the dermatology PA's future looks bright because there's a sun-tanning parlor on every street corner and the population is getting older. Last, I don't have to tell one patient after another why they don't need an antibiotic!

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