Dermatology Nurse Career Profile

Dermatology nurses are nurses who care for patients who are seeking medical help for skin conditions or disorders. These conditions can include psoriasis, cosmetic issues, acne, and the more serious health problems such as skin cancer. Many of these nurses focus on skin cancer, educating patients about early prevention and focusing on treatment.

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Dermatology nurses can work in different settings, including a private physician’s office, a hospital, clinic, or health care center. Duties for these nurses include basic nursing skills such as monitoring patients, assessment, filling out medical records, and educating patients about treatment, medications, and conditions. They may also assist in surgical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, or help treat minor skin conditions such as infection, wounds, psoriasis, or acne.

Becoming a dermatology nurse does not require excessive schooling. If you are interested in healthcare and nursing, you can become a registered nurse in just two to three years by earning your associate degree in nursing at a vocational school or community college. Earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing at a four year college or university is ideal for providing you with a higher salary and choice of job prospects. Once you complete your degree, you will have to pass the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination) given by your state’s board of nursing. You are then a registered nurse (RN), and can work toward becoming a specialized nurse by either taking continuing education courses or earning approximately 2000 hours of clinical work experience that enable you to take a certification exam.

Taking the dermatology nurse certification exam is optional, and requires first becoming an RN and earning the required experience, but would be a great advantage for you career. Certification not only provides you with essential knowledge, but demonstrates your commitment to the field and its standards. With certification, you will have more respect from both your patients and other healthcare professionals. Passing the Dermatology Nurse Certification (DNC) exam given by the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board will earn you the right to use the DNC title and requires renewal every three years. The exam is a multiple choice exam that will cover basic dermatology issues, as well as topics like rosacea, dermatitis, surgical dermatology, or skin infections.

Nursing is a fast growing profession, facing many impending shortages. Choosing a specialization is a great way to ensure that you are employable within the field of nursing. The Dermatology Nurses’ Association is a professional organization with over 26 local chapters that you can join. Professional organizations are a great way to keep up with developments in the field, continuing education and networking opportunities. The mean hourly wage for nurses in the U.S. is now $31.31, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses specializing in Dermatology, or any specialization for that matter, can often command higher pay based on their training, certification and experience. These positions usually offer good medical benefits as well.

Dermatology nursing is a great choice if you are looking for a nursing specialty that does not necessarily require a master’s degree or years of continuing education. If you do choose to advance your education after that point, there is also plenty of opportunity for nurse practitioners in dermatology. Getting your nursing degree now and becoming licensed is the first step toward a rewarding career in healthcare. Find the educational program for you and take advantage of this expanding job sector.
(Sources: Dermatology Nurses Association, Dermatology Nurses’ Association, Dermatology Nurses’ Association Certification resources, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

By: Jamie D., NSD Contributing writer – April, 2010