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  • Practice Management

Expert Advice for Dermatology Advanced Practice Providers Starting Their Career


Learning from mentors and developing a solid foundation in dermatology are just a few of the necessary steps to boost your career as a dermatology APP.

Vincent Smith, DNP, ANP-C, DCNP

Vincent Smith, DNP, ANP-C, DCNP

So, you’ve just landed your first job as a dermatology advanced practice provider. Congratulations! This can be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Many of us have felt these pressures before, and with time you will feel comfortable in your new role. The following tips are a few ways that you can begin to feel at ease in your role.

Develop a solid foundation in dermatology by thoroughly understanding the anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology of the skin, hair, and nails. Familiarize yourself with common dermatologic conditions, their diagnosis, treatment options, and management. Acquire expertise in performing dermatologic procedures, such as biopsies, cryotherapy, and suturing, through hands-on training and supervised practice.

Dermatology often involves interdisciplinary collaboration with other healthcare providers such as dermatologists, plastic surgeons, oncologists, and radiologists. Foster effective communication and collaboration with these providers to ensure a comprehensive level of care for your patients. Be open to learning from their expertise and sharing your knowledge to achieve the best outcomes for your patients.

You’re not in this alone. Search for a mentor who can guide you through this new stage in your career. Having a mentor within the dermatology field can be incredibly valuable for new dermatology nurse practitioners and physician assistants. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career. Look for a mentor who has experience in your specific area of dermatology and is willing to invest time and energy in your professional development. Dermatology is a team-oriented field, and building strong relationships with your colleagues can help you succeed. Later, you’ll be able to offer your expertise to someone who is also new to their role.

Communication is key in dermatology, as patients often have concerns about their appearance and may be emotionally affected by their skin condition. Practice active listening, show empathy, and communicate clearly and compassionately with your patients. Use plain language to explain complex medical terms and procedures and encourage patients to ask questions. Establishing trust and building a strong rapport with your patients will improve patient satisfaction and compliance with treatment plans. Foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity in your practice by being sensitive to patients' cultural beliefs, providing language interpretation services when needed, and addressing any implicit biases that may impact patient care. Our patients come from diverse backgrounds, and it is important to provide the best care possible regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Consider the individual patient's needs, preferences, and comorbidities when developing treatment plans.

The field of dermatology is constantly evolving, and it's essential to stay up to date with the latest research and developments. Attending conferences, reading journals, and participating in continuing education programs will help to keep your knowledge current. You will be able to base your clinical decisions on the best available evidence from peer-reviewed literature and reputable clinical guidelines. Collaborating with other healthcare professionals can help you stay current with new treatments and technologies. Participating in research will ensure you are up to date with the latest developments in dermatology and contribute to the field's knowledge base.

Blue Planet Studio/AdobeStock
Blue Planet Studio/AdobeStock

Joining professional organizations such as the Society of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners (SDNP) or the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) can provide you with access to resources, networking opportunities, and continuing education programs. If your professional organization supports a board certification in dermatology, then strive to achieve that accomplishment. Certification validates your knowledge, skills, and expertise. It demonstrates to patients, colleagues, and employers that you have met the rigorous standards set by your professional organizations and have acquired the necessary competencies to practice in the field of dermatology. This builds trust and confidence among patients, colleagues, and employers, and can enhance your professional reputation. Pursuing certification promotes a culture of excellence among dermatology advanced practice providers. It encourages us to strive for higher standards of practice, engage in self-assessment, and seek opportunities for improvement. It also fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment in our professional achievements.

You have chosen a rewarding career as a dermatology advanced practice provider. Have trust in your education and experiences. Know your worth and remember that you are making a difference in your organization and in the lives of your patients. Like any profession, being a dermatology nurse practitioner or physician assistant may come with challenges. Embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Be resilient and use them as chances to further develop your skills and knowledge. You are a valued member of the healthcare team, and your work has the potential to positively impact the lives of your patients. Stay passionate, continue learning, and always prioritize patient care. You've got this!

Vincent Smith, DNP, ANP-C, DCNP, is a board-certified dermatology nurse practitioner specializing in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. Throughout his 12 years of clinical dermatology experience, he has developed a passion for treating inflammatory diseases such as acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa. When not seeing patients in his clinic he enjoys skiing, visiting Italy, and playing with his 9-year-old Greyhound.

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