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How Do I Become a Dermatology Assistant?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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To become a dermatology assistant, you must complete the required training and obtain the necessary certification and licensure mandated by your area. Usually, this means earning a degree in physician’s assistant studies and passing an official exam. Some students opt to continue their education with dermatology-specific training, and others obtain hands-on experience in a dermatology setting through internships. After you obtain your training and license, you can look for jobs with a dermatologist in a hospital or private setting. Specific continuing education and license maintenance requirements will depend on where you live.

Generally, a person who wants to become a dermatology assistant must first obtain either a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in physician’s assistant (PA) studies. This means you must become trained as a PA before you start focusing on working as a dermatology assistant. Whether you need an associate’s or a bachelor’s will depend both on your area’s requirements and your prospective employer. Regardless of degree requirements, make sure the school provides an accredited PA program. Obtaining certification or licensure usually requires completed training from an accredited program.

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Once you obtain the required degree, you must then obtain the proper certification, which also will depend on where you live. For example, physician’s assistants in America must obtain certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). To gain this certification, you must pass the NCCPA’s Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. Most likely, your school instructors will prepare you for this exam throughout your training. They also will provide you with information about testing requirements such as the dates, times, and any related costs.

Sometimes, a prospective dermatology assistant will continue her education by earning a master’s degree in physician’s assistant studies with an emphasis on dermatology. Such a program provides students with job-specific experience, and sometimes the opportunity for internships or at least time spent in a clinical setting. Note that some areas might require students to obtain a master’s level degree before becoming licensed.

Regardless of your degree level, chances are your training will provide you with some relevant work experience in the form of internship training or clinical rotations. This experience might include helping a dermatologist with exams, talking with patients about skin care or certain skin diseases, and discussing medical treatments with the dermatologist and patients. You might also be responsible for minor procedures, such as giving injections, drawing blood, and completing other prep work before the dermatologist provides the main treatment.

After you obtain your degree and certification, you’ll start looking for jobs as a dermatology assistant. Like other kinds of doctors, dermatologists work in both hospital and private practice settings. You might find a job through contacts you make during an internship, or doctors you become familiar with might provide you with referrals and recommendations.

As a dermatology assistant, most likely you will have to maintain your education and license. The requirements will vary depending on where you live, but in America dermatology assistants must re-take the NCCPA exam every six years and maintain continuing education hours every two years. You will learn the specific details about continuing education, re-examination, and maintenance of certification and licensure during your training to become a dermatology assistant.

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