When growing up, Dr Annu Jain, a Delhi-based dermatologist, wanted to take up a career which would give her an opportunity to interact with people regularly. “During my medical internship days, I realised that I did not wish to get into a medical specialisation that involved clinical emergencies. Dermatology, on the other hand, is a more relaxed field and gives me ample time to interact with my patients.”
Dr Jain says that dermatology as a medical discipline has changed drastically over the last 10 years. “When I started in 2001, 90% of the patients came in for skin-related infections and diseases, and only 10% for cosmetic dermatology, which includes using a treatment that is meant to improve a patient’s appearance rather than treat a disease. Today, however, the statistics have reversed with most of the people coming in for cosmetic reasons like treatments involving laser,” says Jain.
She believes that one always needs to be updated with the latest developments for a long innings in this field. “With new modes of treatments surfacing every now and then, one needs to recreate and reinvent oneself at every step. Keeping up with these advancements makes this profession challenging, as you keep learning throughout your practice,” she adds.
Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases, including skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and scalp infections.
A Maulana Azad Medical College postgraduate, Dr Jain was awarded the gold medal for excellence in dermatology. She is also an active member of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists.
Talking about the evolution of laser treatment, she says it has revolutionalised skin treatment techniques. “Laser is the most common method used to treat scars, pigmentation, acne etc as it gives good results in a short duration and has no accompanying side effects,” she says.
Dr Jain, who is also a visiting doctor at Max Healthcare, Pitampura and Shalimar Bagh and Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Punjabi Bagh, says that people are still firm believers of the myth that dermatologists treat itchy skin and infections. “People also carry a notion that dermatologists prescribe steroids, which is a misconception,” she adds.
With people becoming more conscious of their looks, dermatology as a career is lucrative and has great prospects, says Dr Jain. “Dermatology as a profession has great scope and hence is the most sought after discipline these days because of less demanding hours of work. Moreover, patients rarely encounter life-threatening situations in this field,” she says.
To get into this specialisation, however, is a challenge. “The MD entrance exam is highly competitive as you have to be the best of best and in the top 50 to choose dermatology as a career,” she adds.
A patient’s satisfaction is of utmost importance and patience is key. “One needs to listen very closely to the needs of the patient before zeroing down on a treatment. Handling them sensitively is very important ,” she adds .
All you need to know about a career as a dermatologist
Dermatology is a medical branch that deals with skin, hair and related diseases. The last 20 years have witnessed a tremendous growth in this field and in cosmetic dermatology, that educates dermatologists, plastic surgeons and physicians in other related fields. According to the Medscape’s 2014 Compensation Report, dermatologists fall towards the top among all physicians, with average earnings of $308,000.
* Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, www.mamc.ac.in
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi www.aiims.edu
* Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, www.lhmc.in
* Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, New Delhi, www.gtbh.delhigovt.nic.in
* One needs to take up biology as a subject in classes 11 and 12. Thereafter, an MBBS (undergraduate) degree is required ­followed by MD (postgraduate) degree in dermatology, internship and residency.
* Doctors can also go for other qualifications after MBBS to specialise in dermatology.
Skills and traits
* Strong academic track record and practical training
* Urge to learn the latest advancements and techniques in this field
* Good interpersonal and communicative skills , to understand the needs and wants of the patient
* A good hand at surgery and delicate procedures