Q&A with Dr. Debra: Breaking into Dermatology
I graduate FNP school next year and I am interested in Dermatology. I do not have any experience in this area. Who would be a good contact to learn how to get into the field?
I get this question submitted to the NADNP website many times. It is a difficult question because dermatology is so difficult to find an opportunity. The best thing to do while you are in school is to contact dermatology offices and go above and beyond the clinical time required by your college. Take the opportunity as a student, while covered under their malpractice, to learn as much as you can. Ask permission from your college to do more hours in the "adult" rotation and spend time focusing on dermatology. Most colleges won't allow you to count these ours towards the required clinical rotation time, but who says you can't do more? This will give the dermatologist the opportunity to get familiar with you and your skills. My biggest advice is go PREPARED! Know terminology, basic skin dermatoses and have a knowledge of the different types of skin cancer. It's your chance to impress! They do not want to spend too much time on the basics.
If you have already graduated, join a dermatology organization and network. Perhaps a colleague will allow you to follow them so you can learn. Show what you can do and what you know. The biggest problem with new NPs is that they are just learning their role and don't always make the best first impression after graduation. Most NPs coming right out of school are trying to gain confidence with working up a patient and presenting their findings and treatment plans. Adding the stress of learning such a difficult specialty sets the new NP up for failure. The best way to get experience is to attend the USF DNP Dermatology Residency Program and use this time to put toward your DNP. Otherwise, attend a fellowship or post masters' program like the one NADNP is getting ready to launch.