A Day in the Life: Dermatology Physician Assistant

 In A Day in the Life

Emily Spinner

Dermatology PA

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX, 2011

1. What is your specialty? Where do your work?
My specialty is dermatology.  I work at a private practice Dermatology office in Houston.
2. What is a typical day like?
I work 3 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. My first patient is at either 8:30 or 8:45.  I usually see around 15 patients in a morning.  I typically finish around 11:30, then start back again at 1:30-1:45.  I am typically done by 4-4:30 (can see an additional 15-20 patients). I average about 30 patients a day.
3. What attracted you to your particular specialty originally?
When I was in PA school, I did a dermatology elective.  I LOVED it.  I also loved how patients seemed eager to see the dermatologist/derm PA and wanted to follow the treatment regimen.  I loved the variety of conditions that dermatologist treat and the procedures that are performed.  The schedule was also very enticing.  I currently work part time (3 full days a week, I used to work full time which was 4.5 days a week).
4. What do you find most interesting about your current specialty?
The variety of conditions that we treat.  From prescribing biologic medications for psoriasis, to injecting bleomycin into warts–it never gets old!
5. What special skills are required? Skills you learn once you were hired?
I learned how to do shave and punch biopsies during my dermatology elective.  I also learned cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen) during my rotations.  Depending on which practice, some PAs do excisions, botox, fillers (and other cosmetic treatments).  Suturing skills are also important for punch biopsies and excisions.
6. What do you like most about being a PA?
I love that I am able to help patients.  I like the autonomy, but also knowing I always have back-up.
7. What are the challenges of your particular specialty?
Getting in and finding someone to train you.  Because of the popularity of dermatology, many people want to start their career in it.  It can be very difficult to find a supervising physician to train you.
8. Any other advice you’d like to share?
I couldn’t be happier with my career choice.  PA school is very tough–you can do it!  Once you get through it, find an area of medicine that you love and dive into it.
Ask questions, try to shadow in different scopes of medicine, people love to help out (many remember being in your shoes).
Shadow inpatient, outpatient, adults, pediatrics…rotations also help a lot to give you insight and exposure into what you want to do.  GOOD LUCK

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