How Do I Choose the Best Dermatology Textbook?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 06 January 2020
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Doctors who are seeking a dermatology textbook, whether they are in training or in search of a reference for their practice, have several issues that they might want to consider. The best textbook for a given doctor can depend on how the text will be used, what it is for and what kind of dermatology the doctor practices or plans to practice. Texts often are available through college bookstores or directly from publishers, and it might be possible to get a discounted used text if cost is a concern.

For a doctor in training, a preceptor might recommend or require a specific dermatology textbook. Dermatology residencies might expect all residents to read one or more texts and discuss them over the course of the program. In this case, textbook selection should focus on the required texts. Doctors who want more reference material might want to buy some texts from the recommended list, if one is available. If one is not, an attending physician might be able to provide recommendation to a dermatology resident.


Practicing dermatologists or medical students who want to read more about dermatology but don't have a specific assigned text have more leeway in textbook selection. One option is to ask for recommendations from other dermatologists or instructors. It also can help to look up online reviews. If access to a medical library is an option, it might be beneficial to look at a dermatology textbook to determine whether it will meet the need. It might have poor illustrations, for example, or could have a confusing layout that makes it difficult to read.

Dermatology is a large specialty with many areas within the field, and consequently a doctor's area of focus is an important consideration when choosing a dermatology textbook. Doctors who want to focus on cosmetic issues would need a text specific to this, but a dermatopathologist needs a specific dermatopathology textbook that discusses diseases of the skin and their diagnoses. Medical students might be more interested in a broad overview of the field or a discussion of clinical skills.

Cost can be a factor with a dermatology textbook, because medical texts tend to be quite expensive. Doctors should make sure that they have the right edition at the time of purchase. If a book seems suspiciously inexpensive, it might be because a bookstore is selling copies of an older edition. This can be a problem if the older edition contains outdated or incomplete information. If cost is an issue, used texts can be an option, or a doctor might be able to get review copies from the publisher or distributor by asking a representative of the company.


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