There is a lot of misunderstanding about what exactly is means to be a dermatologist.  A dermatologist is a medical doctor who has completed a dermatology residency at an accredited program and who then went on to pass the very rigorous and challenging exam required for board certification.  Dermatologists stay current with the latest trends in skin disease and maintain their certification regularly with continuing medical education conferences, journals, and peer discussions.

Who is NOT a dermatologist?
  • A family medicine doctor with "special interest" in the skin
  • A nurse practitioner or physcian assistant with "years of dermatology experience"
  • A chiropractor
  • A naturopath
  • A consultant who sells beauty products
  • A gynecologist, surgeon, or anesthesiologist with a medical spa
Is a DO a dermatologist?
DOs are doctors of osteopathic medicine.  This branch of medicine was created in 1874 as a philosophy of total body medicine focusing on prevention and wellness.  DOs traditionally have gone into the primary specialties such as family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics.  DO dermatologists have completed an osteopathic residency, which unfortunately does not have the same training as traditional allopathic dermatology.  They complete their own board exam which is not as rigorous as the American Board of Dermatology exam.  This has been created as a way to sidestep the rigorous screening process required to attain a traditional dermatology residency.  The majority of the time, they will be able to treat you and take care of you.  Unfortunately, it is those few times when misdiagnosis and mistreatment can be devastating, and it really isn't worth the risk.  

What makes our training different?
Dermatology is the single most difficult residency that is available.  The reason is simple: it is a fulfilling career that involves more than creams and potions, laser and fillers, and facials.  It involves years of training and studying under other trained, board-certified dermatologists so that when abnormal and potentially dangerous skin conditions enter the office, they are recognized and not mistreated. 

These days there are many people who want to practice dermatology because they think it will be lucrative or fulfilling in other ways.  Unfortunately, many of these people are trying to deceive patients who have a hard time telling the difference between who is qualified and who is not.  These are the same people who don't have as much to lose when they mistreat your skin or misdiagnose your potentially dangerous skin condition.  Why do they not have as much to lose?  Because they didn't put in the hours to get into the best schools, the hardest residency, and pass one of the toughest board exams out there.

You can always check here to see if your dermatologist is certified.

You have to be aware.  It may seem like a trivial skin condition, but it could cost you your health.  Here are some examples of physicians who have not completed a traditional dermatology residency using their position in potentially harmful ways: