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Dermatology Nursing

“Dermatology” is the branch of medicine that deals with problems related from the skin, including everything from acne to skin cancer. Dermatology nurses care for the patients seeking diagnosis and treatment for various skin ailments.

Although dermatology nursing has been around for some time, the Dermatology Nurses Association, which is the main professional organization for nurses specializing in this field, and which publishes the Dermatology Nursing professional journal, was not formed until 1980. It was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, therefore, that dermatology nursing became recognized as a specialty within the nursing profession.

One might think that the skin is just skin – what could be so complicated about skin that it would warrant an entire specialty within the medical field? The truth is, though, that the skin is an organ, and just like any other organ within the body, its structure, growth, generation, and regeneration are very complex. Furthermore, the number of skin diseases and skin disorders are just as varied as problems associated with any other organ of the body. For this reason, dermatology nurses assisting the doctors and patients who are dealing with these skin ailments are a vital part of the medical field.

Most nurses who work in the dermatology field are LPNs who work for private doctor’s offices – usually either plastic surgeons or dermatologists. Why LPNs rather than RNs? According to nurses already within the field, most doctors would rather not pay the higher salary for an RN, who has more education than an LPN. For this reason, in the private practice setting, the majority of dermatology nurses are LPNs.

However, another route for a nurse interested in helping those with skin problems is to become an RN and work in a hospital burn unit. Sometimes called “burn nursing,” these RNs have the difficult job of providing critical care to burn victims who require serious medical attention. Nurses learn to dress the wounds of burn patients, and change these dressings carefully on a regular basis while causing as little pain to the patient as possible.

Nurse practitioners who focus on the field of dermatology tend to be found in the offices of plastic surgeons and medical aesthetics, where they might be injecting botox, working with lasers, or other type of non-surgical, in-patient medical aesthetics procedures.

 

Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

To become a dermatology nurse as an LPN in a private doctor’s office, only one year of education is required, in addition to holding a high school diploma or a GED. The education of an LPN includes both clinical and classroom work, but is not nearly as involved as the education of an RN in a two or four year program. For dermatology nurses who expect to spend their career in a dermatologist’s office, an LPN degree is a good option.

To become an RN requires either a two year associate’s degree or a four year’s bachelor’s degree in nursing. Of these degrees, RNs with bachelor’s degrees are generally preferred by most hospitals and clinics. With more education, the RN has a greater flexibility in career choices and can give more advanced care in the field of dermatology. RNs who enter the dermatology field are more likely than LPNs to work with patients with advanced skin diseases.

RNs can also certify as a DCN, or dermatology certified nurse. Overseen by the Dermatology Nurses Association, DNA, this certification enables RNs and nurse practitioners who specialize in dermatology to advance their careers and earn more pay by gaining an additional certification. However, it is not necessary to be a DCN to work in the field of dermatology.

Nurse practitioners are nurses with the highest level of education, typically a master’s degree in nursing, or MSN. Although the education costs to become a nurse practitioner are significantly higher, the pay is also significantly higher. Nurse practitioners can easily earn double the average salary of RNs, and even triple that of LPNs. Nurse practitioners generally need five to six years of schooling – four years to gain a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an additional year or two years to gain a master’s degree. It should be noted that nurse practitioner master’s programs require candidates to have practical experience as an RN before gaining acceptance into a NP program.

 

Job Prospects for Dermatology Nurses

Of all the types of certified nurses, LPNs earn the lowest pay. Still, LPNs who work in the offices of dermatologists and plastic surgeons can earn a decent salary of $30 - $40,000 per year. Experienced RNs in this field can expect an average pay of around $50,000 per year, or about average compared to RNs in other specialties. Nurse practitioners in this field earn an average of about $75,000 per year, which is also about the average for nurse practitioners working in other specialties.

 

 


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