Pediatric dermatologists leave school with more debt; academia can't compete

February 1, 2011

Academic pediatric dermatologists can burn out for the same reasons as do their general dermatology colleagues, but they also face unique challenges, those in the field say.

National report - Academic pediatric dermatologists can burn out for the same reasons as do their general dermatology colleagues, but they also face unique challenges, those in the field say.

"The financial compensation doesn't compare to what you would get in private practice or doing general dermatology," while training costs are higher because pediatric dermatologists typically follow their dermatology residency with a pediatric dermatology fellowship, says Albert Yan, M.D., Society for Pediatric Dermatology (SPD) president.

"Then you graduate, not making as much money as if you had skipped (the fellowship) and gone straight into practice," he says. In fact, Dr. Yan says he once turned down a private practice offer that was three times his academic salary.

Although it was hard to leave academia, she says, "There was constant pressure for production - 'There aren't enough clinics; we're not seeing enough patients; the wait times are too long; you're not signing your charts on time.'"

Academic institutions also are feeling the pinch of a shortage of workforce pressures.

"There is clearly a workforce shortage from the standpoint of pediatric dermatology care," Dr. Yan says. A recent SPD survey revealed that, on average, it takes more than three months for new patients to get appointments. At Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he practices, he says, "The wait time for new patients is currently seven months."