A major theme in dermatology is experience. Many dermatology job positions on employment websites are not open to anyone that does not report already having at least 2 years of experience in dermatology on their résumés. Some job postings may ask for even more years of experience. So how is one supposed to obtain this experience if all the dermatology jobs require experience? A predicament indeed, but it IS possible! You just have to think outside the box. Think of specialties that may involve similar types of experiences and procedures.
A great example of a job that is different but similar to dermatology is podiatry. In podiatry, medical assistants and nurses perform patient intakes, assist with foot and ankle x-rays, inject lidocaine to numb biopsy sites, and in some facilities, may even perform shave biopsies. They also do dressing changes and suture removals, which are both essential procedures in dermatology. Every facility is a little different in what they allow their medical assistants and nurses to do. Just like dermatology providers, podiatrists are treating the skin and nails but specifically of the feet, but even a little bit of experience with the skin of the feet is still experience with the skin and dermatology procedures.
As a new nurse or nursing student, I recommend getting hours in the emergency department, burn unit, wound care, or plastic surgery. Even a job or hours at an urgent care would be helpful, since a large proportion of primary care visits involve at least one dermatology complaint. If you are a student and none of these are an option as part of your specific program, then I would say to stick with either some type of adult environment or pediatrics if you enjoy working with kids. I do not recommend the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), as only a minimal amount of that experience will translate over to dermatology. Nurses, many home health care jobs involve wound care and dressing changes, so keep this in mind when searching.
A comment I have heard before from nursing students and new nurses was that they wanted to get experience in pediatrics because they had heard about nurses that ended up having kids and “wanting to work in pediatrics but couldn’t because they didn’t have experience.” If your ultimate goal is to be a pediatric bedside nurse, then this comment is definitely something to consider. However, if you are reading this blog post because you are planning on getting out of the bedside as soon as possible to work in dermatology then you can go ahead and disregard the comment. I never worked in a pediatric unit. I only did a half of a semester (maybe it was a whole semester?) of pediatric clinicals about 12 years ago. It never affected my ability to work in dermatology. HELPFUL HINT: Working in pediatrics can save your back! It’s a lot easier to turn a 50 lb patient every 2 hours than a 350 lb patient!
A great way to get your foot in the door for employment opportunities is to join professional organizations that involve nurses and nurse practitioners in dermatology. For information on other ways in which joining professional organizations can bolster your career, check out my post about the benefits for nurses of joining professional organizations.
Confused about which job would be right for you or worried you may be pigeonholing yourself? Comment below with any concerns you may have, and I will do my best to give you a detailed response! Or you can reach out to me privately with the button below! Best of luck on the pursuit of your dream job!