Dermatologist Shortage?

It seems the demand for good dermatologists has increased dramatically over the past decade or so. It’s no wonder, with all the new skin care products and procedures that have burst onto the skin care scene in the past twenty years.

These new skin care procedures and products range in appeal to ages for their effectiveness on everything from eczema and acne to facial firming and wrinkle removal.

This explosion in skin care technology has resulted in a related increase in demand for skin care professionals – AKA dermatologists, and there are currently not enough dermatologists in some major metropolitan areas to fulfill these demands.

What does this mean for patients? Apparently months-long waiting times for appointments, and the occasional turn-away for preferred providers who cannot accept new patients or have such long waiting periods that patients are forced to go elsewhere. So what does this mean if you have an urgent skin emergency?

Will you be bumped out of the way in favor of a patient who is solely having a cosmetic enhancement procedure performed?

According to some new surveys recently released, most practices do have some sort of backup system in place or alternative scheduling for those with urgent needs, and if they don’t, the patient needs to stress their concern over say a spot on their body that appears to be cancerous or may be a worriesome irritation or rash of some sort.

I myself was put on a three month wait to get in to see one particular dermatologist who practices in a fairly metropolitan area near me. She was on my list of preferred providers for my health insurance, and I was referred to see her for a birthmark my primary care physician wanted checked out and have removed as a precautionary measure against cancer.

Since there was no imminent threat though, and it was strictly precautionary, I was pushed to the back of the line. This particular dermatologist, I noticed, had advertisements for various cosmetic procedures in the office, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them had gotten in ahead of me.

To be fair though, my situation was not an emergency, and I’m sure if it were, they would have worked around their other appointments that were less urgent. However, this may not be the case with every practice, and the patient should be fairly forceful if they feel they need to see the doctor right away.

The shortage of dermatologists may resolve itself. Heck, it looks like it’s a growing profession that many might be stepping into for areas of opportunity, so that may actually help the situation.

The fact still stands though, that with the ever changing world of dermatology and more and more demand for anti aging skin care, dermatologists will be a hot in-demand professional for years and years to come, and we may be fighting those wait lists for longer than we think!