Want to Find the Best Dermatologist for Your Needs? Ask These Questions
Do you need a new dermatologist? Whether you’ve never needed a dermatologist, recently moved, or just want to switch practices, take a look at the questions to ask right now.
What Type of Conditions Do You Treat?
You need to see the dermatologist for a reason. This reason should guide your choice of doctor. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), these physicians treat over 3,000 conditions. While all dermatologists specialize in the treatment of the skin, not every physician has the same level of expertise in individual areas. Before you pick a practice, consider:
- Subspecialties. Does the doctor have additional training and fellowship experience in a subspecialty such as the treatment of skin cancer or Mohs surgery? Ask the physician about the specialty areas of their practice. Match these to your current or projected future needs.
- Surgical options. Will you need a mole surgically removed or another similar skin procedure for a specific condition? Discuss the physician’s surgical experience and what options the practice offers.
- Pediatric conditions. Does the doctor treat children? If your child is the patient, make sure the dermatologist has the expertise and experience necessary to treat pediatric skin conditions.
If you’re not sure what type of skin condition you have, look for a doctor who can diagnose and treat a variety of dermatological issues. You may need to explain your symptoms to a nurse or office staff member to understand if your would-be future doctor is the right choice.
What Should a New Patient Know About Your Practice?
Unless you have extensive expertise in dermatology and how doctors’ offices function, you may not know the questions to ask about a new practice. If you’re not sure where to start, ask the office staff what they feel new patients should know about the practice. Specific points to learn more about may include:
- The hours. Does the practice have Monday through Friday daylight hours, abbreviated hours on some days, evening or weekend appointments, or additional emergency hours? Make sure the hours match your scheduling needs before you choose one practice.
- The availability of appointments. Even though the office hours may match your schedule, you need to know if you can get an appointment easily. Some practices may have weeks or longer wait times for non-emergency issues.
- The doctors. Will you always see the same doctor, or will the office staff schedule you with any physician who is open? If you prefer to have one doctor, ask about this option.
Along with the hours, availability, and choice of doctor, the staff should provide information on the types of insurance they accept and how they bill patients.
What Type of Training or Certifications Do You Have?
This question will help you to better understand the doctor’s expertise and experience level. According to the AAD, the doctor’s training should include:
- College. This is the first step to a career in dermatology. Every dermatologist must have a college degree.
- Post-college degree. A doctor should also have a four-year post-graduate medical degree. This should include an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).
- An internship. The MD or DO completes this type of training after medical school graduation.
- Residency. A dermatologist should complete at least three years of training in a dermatology residency program.
- Certification. A qualified dermatologist should have a board certification through a professional organization such as the American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology.
Beyond the educational and certification requirements, dermatologists should complete between 12,000 and 16,000 hours of patient care hours during their training, according to the AAD.
Are you ready to schedule a dermatology appointment? Contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, for more information.