Dear Future Dermatology Nurses:
Forty years ago, I was a student nurse with no idea where my nursing career would take me. I worked long and unglamorous hours in various settings over the years until I landed a position in a dermatology office. While I had operating room experience, which helped in assisting with Mohs surgery for skin cancer, I was ill prepared for the specialty of dermatology. In my schooling, I don’t once recall that I was exposed to the possibility of dermatology as a career option.
Yet I grew to love the specialty, including the unique combination of medical and surgical nursing, and the “feel good” moments after successful surgeries to remove skin cancers. There are many career possibilities available through the diversity of medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, yet many student nurses graduate without an awareness of a career path in dermatology, let alone training in the field.
I became a successful dermatology nurse only through extensive on-the-job training by the dermatologist who hired me as well as a nurse colleague. As a hiring manager, I found that most of the nurses who applied for positions had minimal training and experience in dermatology. It is surprising to me that a field that has more than 10,000 practicing physicians and treats millions of patients each year, including helping people take care of their largest organ and identifying and treating skin cancer, has so little training and exposure among nurses – a vital component of the patient care team. That’s why in my retirement, I’m helping student nurses prepare for their dermatology careers by lecturing in an online, on-demand training program called Advanced Training in Dermatology. The course prepares nurses to contribute in a dermatology office from day one.
I encourage all student nurses to consider careers beyond the hospital and other traditional settings, such as a career in dermatology, and to pursue additional training before starting a position in the field.
Sincerely, Iris Flick, R.N.