Let’s be real, nobody ever feels 100% prepared to start taking on their own patients after training.
For me, the icing on the cake was that the physician LEFT FOR JAPAN the day I started on my own. I guess he must have really trusted me! But his trust in me or not, I was still alone without the physician, he was 14 hours into another time zone, and I was a little nervous to say the least.
That is why I offer 5 valuable tips for success for when you first start on your own in your dermatology job:
1. Find a mentor or coach.
Find someone who loves to teach and is happy to spend time answering your questions.
We all need mentors. I would not have learned nearly as much as I did if I had not had an amazing NP to work alongside and answer my questions to which the physician did not have time. A mentor doesn’t necessarily have to work in your same practice either. Joining local derm organizations and going to conferences is a great way to find a mentor or coach. And of course, I am always available to help you as well. Work with Me
Come meet some of the most inspiring NPs and PAs in dermatology at the Florida Chapter of the Dermatology Nurses Association Dermatology and Procedure Conference on February 19, 2022! The conference will be a smaller size due to the hands-on aspect, so there will be more opportunity to get to know everyone.
2. Have your favorite textbooks and resources handy.
I STILL refer back to my books from time to time. In addition to being able to immediately get a textbook snapshot of what you just looked at (or think you looked at), it also helps to support the treatment you just chose and helps you think of differentials you may not have thought of.
One of my go-to’s is Habif Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. This book was recommended to me by an early mentor I had who was a PA. I like it because it goes through all of the most common skin diseases that you WILL see in practice, and gives evidence-based treatment recommendations and different options for each condition. It is still one of my favorites to flip through. *Amazon Associates Link to purchase HERE
I also love Medscape for differentials, medication lookup, and getting more background on a specific diagnosis. You can register for Medscape for free and have the app on your phone.
I use the Epocrates app for medication lookup and medication interaction check. This app is also free in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
One of my favorites!
VisualDx is a highly lauded software, but this program has a monthly fee. For their premium option, it will run you $50 per month, and for the lower option, $40 per month. For both options, the first month is free. Click HERE to access the free trial.
3. Ask questions.
Keep a small notebook in your pocket or a note on your iPad to write down every single question that pops in your head during clinic so you can go back to your mentor later and ask. Remember, you’re new at this, and it’s 100% normal (and awesome) to have 1,000,000 questions! It shows you have an inquisitive mind and you are aware of what you don’t know.
4. Don’t try to learn a million different procedures at once.
Master one until you are confident and you don’t get an upset stomach every time you have one on your schedule. That’s when you know you are ready to grow some more. It is normal and also spectacular to get out of your comfort zone, but always stay cautious and maintain patient safety as the number one priority.
A fantastic opportunity to practice your dermatology skills is to attend the Florida DNA conference mentioned above. In case you need it again, HERE is the link to register and hone those procedure skills!
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
As I mentioned before, it is AWESOME to be asking questions and be open to learning. Healthcare is always changing, and even the most seasoned providers have questions and continue to learn. That’s what conferences are for! We are all lifelong learners, and just as you have your mentor, the physician that’s been in dermatology for 20 years also has theirs. We are all here to support each other. Joining professional dermatology organizations is a great way to get connected and meet other APP that were in your shoes and willing to provide support. Check out my blog post on the benefits of joining professional organizations HERE!
Happy healing to all of my brand new and seasoned NPs and PAs out there starting their first jobs in dermatology!
Got a question as a new dermatology provider? Send me a message or fill out the contact form! Thanks for reading!