What do I like about Dermatology?
In short: it’s very, very multifaceted! There is…
- a conservative part,
- a surgical part,
- a day clinic part,
- all-over super friendly colleagues,
- challenging medical content with complex diseases and frequently many side-diagnosis,
- fair working hours,
- the possibility to settle down with your own practice.
The following content only reflects my own personal experience. Many peers will have had different experiences.
Currently, my interest in dermatology is at a super high. However, it has not always been this way.
It was not until rather late in my studies that I got in touch with the subject. In Magdeburg, they do not teach dermatology before the fourth year of your degree. Since the exam in dermatology is only in the fifth year, I naturally did not deal with the subject until just then. Unfortunately, very late.
Nonetheless, the decision pro dermatology was quite well substantiated, like many things in my life.
At the beginning of my degree, I desperately wanted to become a surgeon, which is why I did my nursing practice as well my clinical electives in that area. The more internships I did, the more my fascination for surgery grew. On the other hand, I had the chance to gain increasingly deep insight into the everyday work routines of your usual standard surgeon – and I thought to myself, that this was not the way I wanted to spend my whole life. Maybe up to the age of 40, fine, but what then? So, I set out looking for alternatives.
First of all, the smallest operative subjects were obvious choices: ophthalmology, ENT (ear-nose-throat) medicine, dermatology, gynecology, urology, and oral and maxillofacial surgery (do not sue me if I forgot one).
So then, consequently, I did a clinical elective in the ENT area, which I did enjoy. I had to notice for myself however that I am not that interested in ears. And since the E in ENT stands for ear – well, that subject was ruled out for me.
My experience with gynecology was not the most thrilling, so to say, since the staff was frequently under a lot of stress and a lot of nagging was going on between the women. Gynecology – not for me. In contrary, my experience in urology was really great all the way but admittedly I do not want to spend my life dealing with penises all the time.
My elective subject in my degree was ophthalmology (eye medicine). I was very excited about the topic beforehand, but not so much anymore after actually taking the course. You can only start performing surgery yourself at a very advanced stage of your training, if not only after you became a specialist.
However, I got acquainted with a very great lab manager and he offered me the opportunity to learn stitching under the microscope on bovine eyes. I had great fun doing so and for half a year I went to the lab once a week to cut up and sew back together bovine and porcine eyes.
Then I figured, for the last option, I would look into dermatology. Et voilà – right on the first day of my internship, I was happily welcomed by super nice colleagues and integrated into the team right-away. Since the first day, I thoroughly appreciated the work atmosphere. And it stayed like that. All colleagues I got involved with, even up to the chief physicians, were extraordinarily kind and friendly. Let me just say – that is not a common thing to find in medicine (at least I did not encounter it often)!
What followed were insights into the work routines in dermatology. And, again, I have to say that I was fascinated.
There are three to four stations in total: the conservative station on which cutaneous illnesses are treated conservatively with creams, ointments, pastes etc., tablets, and infusions, the surgical station which attends to cutaneous tumors primarily, the day clinic which handles smaller and recurrent cutaneous indispositions, and possibly, too, the post-stationary care, the allergology and finally, depending on the institution, a station for chronic wounds.
I am intrigued by this very broad spectrum of disciplines. You are not limited to just the conservative part, as is the case in inner medicine, or just the surgical part like in surgery.
What I liked much about surgery is the direct, visible impact of your work. Arm off, Arm on – you directly see what was done. It is very similar in dermatology! For a layperson, or sometimes also myself, many of the efflorescences (skin mutations) simply look red.
After giving the right diagnosis and applying some ointments however, you can notice quite quickly a significant change in the skin condition and the overall health of the patient. And indeed, that is very satisfactory!
My favorite part about Dermatology was the surgical one as well. Especially the tumor operations are extremely exciting. The superficial skin tumors, that sometimes can grow to grotesque or even bizarre extent, or usually removed within minutes or eventually a few hours. I find this highly impressive. The caused skin defect is then covered up via dermatoplasty (tissue transfer, i.e. skin is contracted or transferred from other body regions).
There is also a lot of opportunities to work in tumor prophylaxis in dermatology. Since the tumors are almost always superficial and easily visible on the skin, you can detect them early und commence with the countermeasures – a very satisfactory task with interesting but still not too lengthy surgeries.
I also had the chance to get acquainted with an outstanding surgeon in Magdeburg. She taught me tons and totally fueled my enthusiasm for Dermatology.
Consequently, after a one-month internship, I decided to do some work shadowing on big surgery days distributed over a couple of month and then finally to absolve my PJ in Dermatology.
Location-wise, I was leaning towards Hamburg or Bremen. Since Hamburg rejected me, I went to Bremen, which was absolutely the right choice in retrospective. It’s an excellent, again incredibly neat team. This pattern seems to spread through the whole of Dermatology. Plus, there is competent head physicians, that are willing and capable to teach and tutor. In the operating room, I had a splendid female head physician that showed me a lot and let me do much assisting. Similar on the conservative station: I was able to improve my knowledge and saw many diseases that I could not have placed before.
Long story short, Bremen convinced me to stay in Dermatology and thus I started my first assistant physician position in just this field.
In this sense, stay tuned!