Kenneth Beer, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and the director of scientificskin.com, an online skincare company. He is also the director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, which trains physicians in best practices for cosmetic medicine. Dr. Beer is an instructor in dermatology at the University of Miami, and he is an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and received his dermatology and dermatophathology training at the University of Chicago. Visit Dr. Beer's office at palmbeachcosmetic.com.
 
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Finding a Good Dermatologist

Tuesday, 06 Nov 2012 07:26 AM


Finding a good doctor is difficult, and finding a good dermatologist is even harder. This is because there are so few dermatologists who are board certified by the American Board of Dermatology (about 200 each year).

One of the criteria I would recommend you to keep in mind when selecting a dermatologist is to make sure that the doctor is interested in the issues important to you. Some dermatologists only do skin cancer, others specialize in acne and rashes, and still others focus on cosmetic dermatology and surgery.

Most of the surgical dermatologists (called dermatologic surgeons) do skin cancer and cosmetic issues, but also do some general dermatology.

I do general, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, and have been teaching and publishing in each because I am interested in all areas. Although not always an indicator of intelligence or skill, where the person went to school and did their residency is significant.

Also, make sure that you get along with your dermatologist. If you are seeing your dermatologist for a single skin cancer surgery, it might be OK if he or she is a great technician and wonderful at reconstruction following skin cancer surgery (you don’t have to have tea with him or her). But if you need to have an ongoing relationship, it is nice to get along.

My practice style may be characterized as direct, and this is not always the right approach for some people. However, many people appreciate my candor and we get along well. Most end up becoming friends, and I am happy to care for them and guide them in other healthcare issues.

Other sources for finding a good dermatologist include asking your internist who he or she uses (assuming they are good doctors themselves). The American Academy of Dermatology’s Website lists dermatologists by area code (Click here.). The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (the parent organization for dermatologic surgeons) has one as well (Click here). These sources can help provide you with dermatologists in your area, but they don’t filter by ability.

For patients with insurance, your provider can tell you which dermatologists accept your insurance, but many won’t take insurance simply because of the administrative headaches imposed by the companies. Also, the reimbursement levels do not allow them to perform thorough examinations.

Two other considerations when selecting a dermatologist include: Are you going to actually see the dermatologist? And, do they teach? The first consideration is important because in some practices you will routinely be seen by a physician assistant or nurse. I use a physician assistant and have nothing against them, but for complicated problems or surgeries, I like to work with my PA and make sure that I see them, because my level of training is significantly greater than theirs would be.

Teaching does not directly affect patient care, but is an indicator that the dermatologist is a leader in the specialty. Publications and lecturing are other barometers that indicate the doctor is interested in staying at the forefront of the specialty. Teaching, writing, and conducting research are all activities that are essential to my practice. I think they expose my patients to better medicine.

Additional training may be something to look for as well. Dermatologists may elect to do fellowships in dermatopathology, Mohs surgery, pediatric dermatology, or procedural dermatology.

Dermatopathology is currently defined as the interpretation of skin diseases using a microscope, and this definitely helps me treat my patients. I also think that it makes me a better Mohs surgeon, and helps my perspective of skin care in general.

Finding the right dermatologist is a challenge. In today’s environment, it is important to find someone that is well trained, board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and someone that you like to speak with.










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