Effective Collaboration on Skin Disease Starts With Medical Education
Unfortunately, medical students often receive little to no dedicated exposure to dermatology throughout their training. As a result, our current medical graduates have little practice in describing skin lesions, insight into cutaneous disease, or ability to communicate effectively with dermatologists.
We advocate for increased exposure to dermatology throughout medical school. While dedicated teaching time with dermatologists provides optimal opportunities for reinforcement of skills, such opportunities are not feasible in all training environments. Alternatives include uses of standardized patient encounters and day-to-day reinforcement of basic skills in other areas of clinical practice. To illustrate, a trainee seeing a rash in the emergency room should work to accurately describe it using well-defined morphologic terminology. His or her supervising attending must also become well versed in these descriptors in order to provide constructive feedback.
The purpose of increased training in dermatology is not necessarily to create more dermatologists. Rather, we advocate for a system that will render all physicians more confident in approaching the dermatologic patient and more capable of coordinating care with dermatologists. As research on skin cancer outcomes has demonstrated, our patients ultimately benefit when we are able to effectively collaborate across specialties.