The first thing you need to know about picking a dermatologist is that you may not actually need a dermatologist. In fact, there are several types of health care providers who can take care of basic skin conditions.
Types of ProvidersThe following are descriptions of the different levels of health care providers:
- Nurse Practitioner - A registered nurse (RN) who has further training in diagnosing and treating patients. s a general rule, NP's are very interested in patient education.
- Physician Assistant - PA's have a 2-year training program instead of a 4-year medical school. Many specialize in certain fields just like doctors.
- Primary Care Doctor - An MD or DO who specializes in internal medicine, family practice, or pediatrics.
- Physician Specialist - Examples of specialists who take care of skin conditions include dermatologists, surgeons and allergists.
- Subspecialist - These specialties are the most narrow and require the most training. Examples are plastic surgery, dermatopathology, and Moh's micrographic surgery.
Communicating with Your ProviderWith all of these choices, where do you start? Most importantly, you should find a provider you can trust and communicate with comfortably. Communication is easier with someone who fits your personality and takes you seriously. If you're not sure whether your current provider can take care of your skin condition - ask. Here are some examples of questions to ask your provider:
- Do you take care of patients with this type of skin condition?
- What information can you give me about my rash?
- When do you refer patients with rashes to another provider?
- Who would you refer me to?