Believe it or not people often ask us what the difference is between between a Skin Specialist / Dermatologist and a General Doctor or General Practitioner.
A Dermatologist is a medical doctor who has studied for six years as a medical student at a University before attaining a medical degree (MB ChB).
After graduating as a medical doctor, a seventh year is spent as an Intern or Houseman at a State Hospital putting into practice what has been learnt during the six years of undergraduate study.
After completing the Intern year, all South African doctors have to undertake community service for two years to be accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa to practice medicine. Before specialising medical doctors have to spend two years working outside of their chosen specialty to gain wider experience and these two years of community service are taken into account.
At this stage a doctor decides to either practice as a GP or to specialize in a particular area of medicine. In the case of Dr Ian Webster, he chose Dermatology.
After spending a minimum of two years working outside of a chosen specialty, a medical doctor can then apply to do post-graduate studies as a Registrar in a specialized department of a State Teaching Hospital.
Specialist Registrar posts are not easily available and often doctors have to study for extra diplomas to gain entry to specialize for an extra four years, in the case of a Dermatologist.
With over 2500 different skin diseases, Dermatology is an interesting specialty ranging from skin cancer through to anti-ageing treatments. It is highly specialised and often needs an expert eye with extra years of study to make a diagnosis as many diseases can manifest on the skin.
It’s this ongoing experience to challenging and complex skin cases that further specializes a Dermatologist, as well as the additional years of post-graduate study that makes them the go-to source for Skin Health Advice.
There are plus/minus only about 135 private Dermatologists in private practice in South Africa for a population of 50 000,000+