Question:

I am in my third year of MBBS. Although very little of this subject is taught at the undergraduate level, I have developed an interest in dermatology. Would this be a good and satisfying option? 

Answer:

As a medical student, you must have learnt that the skin is the largest organ in the human body with a surface area of 18-20 sq ft. and its three layers constitute16% of our total body weight.   As a consequence, the skin hosts the greatest number of cutaneous diseases — an estimated 2,000+. So understandably, dermatology, the medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing and treating skin diseases and disorders makes for an interesting clinical and surgical career with a balanced and flexible work life — traits difficult to match in other medical specialties. For one, there are hardly any emergencies in this profession. Rarely will someone insist you remove their wart or treat acne or baldness in the middle of the night. 

Moreover, setting up your own practice is comparatively easier because you do not need to invest in expensive hi-tech equipment. In terms of sheer clinical variety, dermatology must rank among the most fascinating and with dermatologists now conducting aesthetic procedures e.g. laser, botox, collagen implants and anti-ageing treatments, it also ranks among the most paying. 

Is it a satisfying and challenging field? Read on and decide for yourself… 
For one, skin and hair-related issues such as eczema, psoriasis or acute dandruff often results in a profound impact on quality of life. Consider, for example, the distress caused by premature hair loss — it is grossly out of proportion with the physiological function that hair serves. 

As a dermatologist you will have plenty of opportunities to improve the patient’s physical and psychological well-being, and, naturally, along with this comes a high level of job satisfaction. 
But dermatology does at times suffer from the common assumption that because skin diseases have low mortality rates, the specialty is not important and, hence not as fulfilling a career choice. This leads some junior doctors to neglect dermatology as a career possibility without genuinely considering its numerous advantages. 

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