What is a Dermatology PA?

Physician Assistants (PAs) in the field of dermatology are licensed healthcare providers who work in collaboration with a dermatologist.  PAs in dermatology both diagnose and treat a wide variety of skin, hair, and nail conditions that are medical, surgical, as well as cosmetic in nature.  They work as part of a team-based approach to medical care where the collaborating physician determines and delegates responsibilities based on the experience, knowledge, and competence of the individual PA and guided by the laws of the state in which they practice.

PAs are medical professionals who graduate from accredited PA educational programs, hold national certification, and are licensed by the state in which they practice.  The PA educational program is modeled on the medical school curriculum which includes both a classroom and clinical rotation component.  PA training programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants which average 27 months in duration.  Most applicants to PA school have completed a Bachelor's degree prior to matriculation and most are awarded a Master's degree upon completion of their training programs.

Upon graduation, PAs must pass boards to become certified at the national level by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants and are required to complete 100 hours of continuing education every two years as well as to re-certify through boards every 10 years.  

The collaborating dermatologist with whom a PA works will help the PA to train in dermatology beyond their formal education and consult with them when needed.  Dermatology PAs also have additional education resources available to them including the SDPA Diplomate Program, dermatology educational conferences, dermatology journals, and texts, as well as numerous other self-study courses.  A select few dermatology PAs may also have had the opportunity to complete a dermatology PA residency program.  Many dermatology PAs lecture at PA training programs, serve as preceptors to students wishing to do a rotation in dermatology, lecture at educational conferences, serve as co-investigators in clinical studies, and also work in other settings such as industry.

The SDPA has developed an excellent video highlighting the education and role of Dermatology PAs which we invite you to view: What is a Dermatology PA?