Bringing up baby: Pediatric subspecialty recent marker for dermatology

October 1, 2009

The certification of pediatric dermatology as a subspecialty is a relatively recent milestone in the field of dermatology.

St. Louis - The certification of pediatric dermatology as a subspecialty is a relatively recent milestone in the field of dermatology.

Although the Society for Pediatric Dermatology was established in 1975, the subspecialty was not formally recognized until 2004, according to Elaine C. Siegfried, M.D., professor of pediatrics and dermatology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and director of pediatric dermatology, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, St. Louis.

When Dr. Siegfried completed medical school in 1985, a doctor pursuing pediatric dermatology needed double board certification - first in pediatrics, then in dermatology.

In the late 1990s, Dr. Siegfried says, Kenneth Bloom, M.D., suggested board certification for pediatric dermatology, for both training and economic purposes. The first board exam was given in 2006. The board exam is given every two years, because it is costly to administer to relatively few doctors.

Pediatrics is still a small subset of general dermatology, with a very small number of practitioners compared to cosmetic and medical dermatology.

"We have a huge manpower shortage," Dr. Siegfried says. "The way that you attract medical students to a fellowship is by exposure," she says, and pediatrics is not a required rotation for dermatology licensure.

Pediatric dermatology is "not all about money," Dr. Siegfried says.

"When you make something better for a kid, you make something better for a life," she says. "It can be life-altering for an entire family."

Overall, Dr. Siegfried says, pediatric dermatologists are a happy, special group.

"Being part of that group of special people is a real privilege," she says.