Dermatology Nurse Career Path: How to Become and What to Expect from a Career in Dermatology Nursing
There are many exciting career paths within the nursing field for aspiring RNs. From bedside nursing positions to alternative nursing careers, more traditional nine-to-five jobs, or leadership and management roles, there is a wide net of job opportunities for people interested in nursing.
In this article, we will look closer at one of these wonderful career paths for determined and enthusiastic care providers: dermatology nursing. We will explore how to become a Dermatology RN by looking into education and certification requirements. We will also give you an idea about what to expect regarding salary and benefits, career outlook, and more.
This guide will be your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about dermatology nursing. So, let's get started and explore this great career path!
What Is a Dermatology Nurse?
A Dermatology Nurse is a Registered Nurse specializing in treating and caring for patients with a wide variety of skin diseases and conditions. Often, they'll work alongside a dermatologist performing procedures, treating wounds, and tending to afflicted patients.
Another path available to Dermatology RNs: is cosmetic dermatology, also known as aesthetic dermatology nursing. Cosmetic Dermatology Nurses care for people who undergo cosmetic surgery or various procedures, such as laser treatments of chemical peels.
The minimum educational requirement for pursuing either of these paths is RN licensure. However, should you want to advance in dermatology nursing, you can do so by becoming a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner.
What is a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who are quickly becoming the health partner of choice for millions of Americans. They are highly trained nurses who blend clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions, emphasizing disease prevention and health management.
Dermatology is one of the specialties you can pursue if you're interested in becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
A Dermatology Nurse Practitioner holds a Master's or Doctoral degree in the Science of Nursing. They evaluate, diagnose, and treat conditions and diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails. These could range from acne or eczema to more complex issues such as bullous disease or cutaneous lymphoma. Dermatology NPs can specialize even further in pediatric, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology.
Dermatology NPs vs. Dermatologists
Dermatologists and Dermatology Nurse Practitioners provide similar care for many different skin conditions. The crucial difference is that dermatologists complete medical school, a residency, and hold a medical license. That means they can practice independently in every state.
Dermatology NPs pursue nursing schools, hold a nursing license, and are certified by their state's Board of Nursing. For the most part, NPs enjoy a very high level of autonomy in their practice. Still, that may vary depending on the state they practice in.
What Does a Dermatology Nurse Do?
Dermatology Nurses work collaboratively with larger healthcare teams, providing essential care in treating various skin conditions. This role includes a wide variety of responsibilities that range from primary nursing care to educating patients. Let's take a closer look at some of the most common day-to-day duties Dermatology RNs encounter in their practice:
- Review patients' medical histories.
- Conduct assessments. Dermatology Nurses examine and assess patients' skin conditions to determine the appropriate treatment plans.
- Perform diagnostic tests like skin biopsies, allergy tests, and patch tests to diagnose skin conditions and allergies.
- Administer medications and treatments according to a dermatologist's prescription.
- Assist dermatologists in different procedures, such as Botox and other injections, laser treatments, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or surgeries.
- Assist dermatologists with the removal of cancerous moles.
- Provide pre-and post-op care to dermatological patients.
- Screen patients for skin cancers.
- Provide wound care for patients suffering from burns, ulcers, or wounds.
- Monitor patients and keep clear and detailed records of treatment plans, symptoms, developments, etc.
- Educate patients regarding correct skincare techniques and the management and prevention of skin problems or disorders.
Dermatology Nurse Practitioners have a higher level of responsibility and autonomy in their practice. They can prescribe medications and independently perform certain procedures like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing.
Dermatology Nurse Salary
As with any nursing career, your salary potential will vary across geographical areas, employers, years of experience, and education levels. Still, Dermatology Nurses enjoy good salaries and benefits, making it a very attractive career path for aspiring RNs.
According to ZipRecruiter, Dermatology Nurses make, on average, $60,792. That is below the national average for Registered Nurses reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS data indicates that as of May 2021, on average, RNs made $77,600. However, BLS does not differentiate between different nursing specialties.
How Much Do Dermatology Nurse Practitioners Make?
On the other side, Dermatology NPs, because of the higher level of education and complexity of the role, have much higher wages. According to ZipRecruiter data gathered in March 2023, a dermatology nurse practitioner's average payslip is around $111,828.
How to Become a Dermatology Nurse?
If you're interested in starting a career in dermatology nursing, probably the questions at the top of your mind are: How do you become a Dermatology Nurse? How long does it take? Can you start practicing right after you complete your education?
In short, the minimum educational requirement to become a Dermatology Nurse is RN licensure. So, you can start practicing in around two to four years. The field has numerous advancement opportunities, ranging from getting certified to becoming a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner.
Now, let's take a closer step-by-step look at the requirements to become a Dermatology Nurse.
Step 1: Enroll in a nursing program
Your nursing journey starts with you finding an accredited nursing program that fits your needs and ambitions. You can take two main paths: pursue an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or enroll in a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN).
An ADN is the fastest way to RN licensure. This type of program takes around two years to complete, and once you do, you are eligible to sit for the NCLEX RN.
The second route - enrolling in a BSN - is by far the most common and recommended. Even though it takes longer to complete a BSN degree, it prepares you more in-depth for the challenges of a nursing career. You'll spend around four years completing this degree, but the numerous benefits that come with it, make it all worth it.
Because of their extended education, BSN Nurses are linked with better patient outcomes. Subsequently, healthcare employers have a strong preference for hiring BSN-trained nurses. According to a yearly survey by the AACN, in 2022, 71.7% of employers expressed a strong preference for BSN program graduates.
Plus, BSN nurses have more opportunities for career advancement, earn higher salaries, and enjoy higher job satisfaction.
Nightingale College's BSN Program is the perfect choice for prospective learners who want to gain the best evidence-based skills and knowledge in their practice. It can be completed in 32 months and follows a blended learning format. That means students engage in online didactic instruction and on-ground experiential learning. The hands-on clinical experience is organized into Supervised On-ground Field Experience (SOFE) Areas available across the United States.
If you went the ADN route and would like to advance your education to the BSN level, there's some excellent news for you! With a fast-track RN-to-BSN program, you can get your BSN degree in a shorter period of time, which is great for working professionals.
Our RN-to-BSN can be completed in as few as 12 months! It's also 100% online and career friendly. So, you don't have to choose between advancing your education or keeping your job. You can do both simultaneously. Our comprehensive curriculum will allow you to advance your nursing skills and take your dermatology nursing career to new heights.
Step 2: Pass the NCLEX
Completing a nursing program, whether ADN or BSN, doesn't automatically make you a Registered Nurse. You must overcome one more hurdle to gain that coveted RN licensure: the NCLEX-RN.
The NCLEX is an exam developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to test the competency and preparedness of nursing school graduates. It's an exhaustive five-hour examination that will be the crowning achievement of your nursing education. It's no easy test, but a high-quality nursing program will prepare you for the challenge.
Step 3: Start working and Earn Experience
With your nursing education completed and the NCLEX passed, you can now get to the fun part: working and gaining experience. Make sure your resume is up-to-date with all the essential skills for a Dermatology RN, find jobs you love, apply, and prepare thoroughly for the interviews. In no time, you'll be a practicing nurse!
You can find some entry-level dermatology nursing positions right after you graduate. However, many nurses choose to get some experience as Registered Nurses in units that would help them hone their dermatology-related skills first. For example, they may work in Med-Surg units to earn wound care experience. If they're interested in surgical dermatology, new graduates can spend some time as Perioperative RNs.
Do You Need to Become a Certified Dermatology Nurse?
For Registered Nurses, certification is a voluntary yet highly recommended process. It's a great way to boost your nursing career and prove to yourself and other healthcare professionals that you have outstanding skills and knowledge in your specific area. Getting certified will help you stand out from the competition, improve your earning potential and give you more job opportunities.
Learn more about the benefits of becoming a certified Registered Nurse.
Dermatology Nurses who want to elevate their expertise through certification can earn the credential provided by the Dermatology Nursing Certification Boards.
To sit for the certification exam and become Dermatology Nurse Certified, you need to hold an unencumbered RN license, at least two years of dermatology nurse experience, and at least 2,000 hours of experience in the field in the past two years.
Certification is valid for three years, after which you'll have to undergo recertification.
Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner: Certification Option for NPs
The DNCB also offers certification opportunities for Dermatology Nurse Practitioners. To be eligible to sit for the Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner (DCNP) exam, you need to fulfill the following eligibility criteria:
- You need to have a Master's or Doctoral degree
- You must hold current NP state licensure
- You need to have national certification as an NP
- You need at least 3,000 hours of recent dermatology NP practice within the last three years.
Where Do Dermatology RNs Work?
Dermatology Nurses can find job opportunities in a wide range of settings. Some of the most common include:
- Dermatology clinics
- Plastic surgeons' offices
- Plastic surgery centers
- Research institutions
Career Outlook for Dermatology Nurses
The job outlook for Dermatology Nurses is excellent. The demand for dermatological care continues growing, so nurses with specialized knowledge and skills are needed.
As the population ages and the rates of skin cancer and other skin diseases rise, there is a growing demand for Dermatology Nurses in various healthcare settings, including clinics, hospitals, and dermatology offices.
Additionally, more and more people have become interested in caring for their skin. There's an increase in individuals who have the resources and desire to reduce signs of aging and maintain a youthful appearance. They are interested in cosmetic procedures that enhance their chances of achieving that. As the skincare and cosmetic industries continue to grow, so will the career outlook for Dermatology RNs.
Lastly, the rapid advancements in technology and treatments further the need for skilled nurses who can assist with these procedures. Dermatology Nurses who stay current on the latest treatments and technologies will be in high demand.
Are You Ready to Pursue a Career in Dermatology Nursing?
Dermatology nursing is a fantastic career for aspiring nurses. You get to do meaningful work and enjoy the benefits of good salaries and fantastic job opportunities.
Take the first step to becoming a Dermatology Nurse today! Enroll in Nightingale College's BSN program or advance your education with our online RN-to-BSN program and start building the foundation of a great nursing career!