Skin Care Attracting Top Doctors
Aspiring doctors put in countless hours and rack up thousands of dollars in student debt, but not all are aiming for prestigious fields like cancer research and cardiology. In the past few years, the most sought-after fields in medicine have been much more superficial: plastic surgery and dermatology.
Figures from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that last year, about half of medical students who put dermatology as their first choice for residency were rejected. In contrast, the acceptance rate for internal medicine was 98%, while that for family medicine was 99%.
And it’s not a matter of competence: many of those who failed to get dermatology residencies were top students in their respective classes. The reason is that dermatology continues to be a niche field, with less than 500 residencies up for grabs. Internal medicine offers over 5,000 residencies, while family medicine has about 2,500.
The demand is understandable considering the high price of aesthetic procedure. A Botox treatment can pay 20 times as much as a heart disease check on a per-hour basis, with the added perk of flexible hours and not being on call all the time. These work conditions are attracting the country’s best medical students, leaving primary-care fields to graduates of foreign medical schools. These doctors, although just as capable, seldom stay longer than a few years, choosing instead to practice in their home countries. This explains the growing shortage of practitioners in many other medical fields, which in turn contributes to the less-than-ideal state of American healthcare.
Current and would-be dermatologists see their specialty as more than skin-deep. According to them, because skin problems are more noticeable than, say, high blood pressure, they can cause psychological problems that can affect a patient’s overall well-being. And not all dermatology patients have superficial needs: plastic surgery is sometimes needed to restore facial features following an accident or when a tumor spreads to visible areas.
Another thing that lends credence to skin care is the rate at which technological developments and treatments are entering the market. Doctors have access to a wide range of tools to help diagnose and treat even the most difficult skin problems, and often, they don’t have to consult with other practitioners to reach a diagnosis.
Not all aspiring dermatologists are after the job conditions, although it’s definitely a welcome perk. Some are more interested in research, going after new treatments and crafting new procedures for diseases like skin cancer. In any case, if you’re ever in need of a capable doctor in the next few years, you’ll know where to look.