Dermatology Nurse Career Guide


    Dermatology Nurse Career Guide

    In addition to the aesthetic benefits of good skin, the field of dermatology is incredibly important to a patient's overall health because skin is also the largest organ in the body. Find out more about what dermatology nursing is all about including education, career path, certifications, salary, and job outlook of this exciting specialty.

    Part One What is a Dermatology Nurse?

    Dermatology nurses work specifically in the treatment and care of patients with diseases, wounds, injuries, and other skin conditions. 

    Dermatology nurses have the ability to work in a wide range of settings, including, but not limited to, private practice offices, hospitals, infusion centers, clinics, plastic surgeons’ offices, and burn centers. 

    Duties for dermatology nurses vary depending on setting; however, specific roles and responsibilities include:

    • Assist in the performance of skin exams for skin cancer and other conditions
    • Monitor and record a patient's medical history and test results
    • Provide pre- and post-operative care for patients undergoing treatment
    • Perform and assist with cosmetic dermatology procedures
    • Assess, monitor and treat skin wounds, including burns and ulcers
    • Educate patients on how to protect their skin 

    Dermatology nurses can also find work in day spas or cosmetic dermatology offices as this is currently on the rise. These nurses will assist performing procedures such as laser treatments, tattoo removal, chemical peels, and other various treatments. 

    Part Two What is the salary range for a dermatology nurse?

    Due to the diversity of work settings, salaries for dermatology nurses can also vary greatly. With any career in nursing, it is important to research geographic areas of interest and the requirements to understand the salary for specific job opportunities.

    According to payscale.com, the average salary for a dermatology nurse is $23.96 with a median yearly salary of $52,035. This figure is ever changing as it is directly related to a limited number of current job opportunities reported in the field. 

    Payscale.com does report the average salary range of dermatology nurses at a handful of hospitals throughout the country. Five hospitals and/or healthcare systems on the list include:

    Hospital State Salary Range
    Comanche County Memorial Hospital Oklahoma $39,000 - $49,000
    Bayhealth Medical Center Delaware $54,000 - $72,000
    Midland Memorial Hospital Texas $48,000 - $56,000
    Shady Grove Adventist Hospital Maryland $66,000 - $81,000
    Stanford Hospital and Clinics California $86,000 - $124,000

    Despite information reported on Payscale.com there is very limited information regarding specific salaries for dermatology nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2016, the mean hourly wage for registered nurses in was $32.91 while the average annual salary was $68,450

    The BLS identifies the following as the highest paying states for nursing: 

    State Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
    California $48.92 $101,750
    Massachusetts $42.82 $89,060
    Hawaii $42.75 $88,910
    Oregon $41.83 $87,000
    Alaska $41.56 $86,450

    In the same year, the BLS ranked the highest mean annual salaries for nurses, and the top ten were in California. The top five from the list are as follows: 

    Metropolitan Area Hourly Avg Annual Avg
    San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA $65.68 $136,610
    Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $60.06 $124,920
    Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $59.80 $124,380
    San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $58.02 $120,680
    Salinas, CA $57.75 $120,120

    Most healthcare systems pay nurses on an hourly scale while others have a fixed annual salary, such as nurses in an office setting. Those paid on an hourly scale are able to earn overtime pay whereas salary employees would need to discuss that with the hiring committee.  

    Overall, pay generally correlates with cost of living for a specific geographical area. As indicated above, nurses in Oklahoma earn significantly less than their counterparts on the west coast. Despite having the same job title, the cost of living in California is much higher and thus equaling a greater pay. 

    How To Earn More As A Dermatology Nurse

    As with all jobs in the nursing field, earning potential increases with additional education and experience. Nurses typically are awarded a raise during annual employee performance reviews. Certifications can give nurses an additional bump in their paycheck. Furthermore, nurses who agree to precept new nurse employees can also receive additional compensation.  

    Typical Employer Benefits 

    Regardless of workplace setting, full time and part time dermatology nurses enjoy similar benefits. While actual benefits may vary depending on the institution, most offer the following: 

    • Health insurance 
    • Retirement Options
    • Family Leave of Absence
    • Maternity Leave
    • Dental Insurance
    • Vision Insurance
    • Discounts
    • Attendance at nursing conferences

    Part Three What Is The Career Outlook For Dermatology Nurses?

    The BLS predicts that employment for registered nurses will grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Overall growth will occur for a number of reasons, but primarily due to the increased emphasis on preventive care, including regular dermatology check-ups, and the increase in skin cancer in the United States.

    Furthermore, the demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population will cause a dramatic need for nurses in specific nursing fields, such as dermatology. 

    Additionally, advancements in cosmetic dermatology have resulted in a very positive career outlook for nurses interested in specializing in dermatology.

    Part Four How To Become A Dermatology Nurse

    As with any nursing career, students must first complete and receive either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited university.

    After passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam, individuals must become licensed in their state of practice. The NCLEX is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada. This schooling may take 2-4 years depending on the length of the program.

    Once licensed, registered nurses can apply for jobs in the dermatology field. Most physician offices will want nurses with prior work experience which may be obtained on a general medical-surgical hospital inpatient floor. 

    Part Five Certifications for Dermatology Nurses

    The Dermatology Nurses’ Association (DNA) offers a Dermatology Nursing Certification Examination(DNC) for nurses specializing in dermatology. This certification can lead to increased job opportunities and increased earning potential. 

    According to the DNA’s website, to be eligible to sit for the DNC examination, candidates must meet the following requirements:

    • Have a minimum of 2 years of dermatology nursing experience as an RN
    • Hold a current unrestricted license as an RN in the U.S. or Canada
    • Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience in dermatology nursing within the past 2 years in a general staff, administrative, teaching or research capacity

    Upon application for the exam, all of the aforementioned will be verified. The certification is valid for three years and recertification is obtained via continuing nursing education hours of recertification.

    Currently, the cost for the exam is $200 for DNA members and $275 for non-members. Most places of employment will reimburse the cost of the exam as it is directly related to job roles. The exam currently consists of 175 questions, lasting approximately 4 hours and includes dermatology topics such as:

    • Tumors/Malignancies
    • Bullous and Immune Disorders
    • Acne and Rosacea
    • Hair and Nails
    • Photosensitivity/Photodamage
    • Wounds
    • Ulcers
    • Infections
    • Dermatitis
    • Papulosquamous Disorders

    While the main certification for dermatology nurses is the DNC, there are additional training opportunities, especially in cosmetic dermatology. These nurses will need to receive training specifically related to procedures such as tattoo removal, chemical peels, and/or laser procedures. These skills can be learned at conferences or via in-service workshops. 

    Part Six What Is It Like To Be A Dermatology Nurse?

    Daily roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the specific workplace. Dermatology nurses work with the medical team to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of different skin injuries and conditions. The most common are:

    • Burns
    • Skin Cancer
    • Warts
    • Acne
    • Impetigo
    • Rosacea
    • Psoriasis
    • Moles

    Dermatology nurses also assist in performing skin exams, documenting current patient’s conditions, taking vital signs, recording medical history, and obtaining lab specimens and results.They work very closely with physicians on a daily basis and responsibilities can vary depending on skill level of the nurse. 

    Dermatology nurses are responsible for educating patients and their caregivers on how to care for skin conditions and recover from treatments once the patient has returned home. 

    Cosmetic Dermatology

    Cosmetic Dermatology, while not entirely a new field, has become one of the fastest growing medical fields in the last decade. According to statistics, in 2011, more than 12 billion minimally invasive cosmetic dermatology procedures were performed.

    The goal of cosmetic dermatology is to attain and maintain healthy, natural skin. Treatments can range from deep cleansing, refreshing, rejuvenating, and restoring skin texture and tone, to reducing skin imperfections. These imperfections can be caused by:

    • Acne
    • Age Spots
    • Birthmarks
    • Lines and wrinkles
    • Melasma
    • Moles
    • Skin discoloration (sun spots)
    • Skin tags
    • Stretch marks

    Cosmetic dermatology nurses will also assist with the following procedures:

    • Laser Hair Removal
    • Tattoo removal
    • Chemical peels
    • Scar removal
    • IPL photofacials
    • Laser skin resurfacing
    • Dermal fillers and injectables
    • Hair loss restoration
    • Laser skin tightening

    An increasing number of general dermatology practices and branching into cosmetic dermatology due to the demand and endless financial possibilities.

    For this reason, the growth in this aspect of the field is exponentially greater than conventional dermatology practices. A general rule of thumb is the increase in the number of services an office can provide to patients - the greater the opportunities for the nursing staff.  

    Part Eight What are the CEU requirements for dermatology nurses?

    Dermatology nurses do not necessarily have specific requirements beyond state-mandated continuing education. However, DNC recertification does.

    Certified nurses must obtain 45 contact hours with a minimum of 30 contact hours specifically related to dermatology nursing. These hours can be used for state licensure recertification and vice versa. 

    All dermatology nurses are required to maintain an RN license.

    Continuing education requirements for the license differ for each state. Monetary fees and other state-specific criteria are also associated with all license and certification renewals.  

    Examples of continuing education requirements for RNs are as follows: 

    • Arkansas - 15 contact hours every 2 years
    • Illinois - 20 contact hours every 2 years
    • Florida - 24 contact hours every 2 years
    • Iowa - 36 hours every 2 years
    • Pennsylvania - 30 contact hours every 2 years 

    Some states do not require CEU’s to maintain an RN license. Examples include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, and Indiana. Several states also require HIV/AIDS education such as New York, Minnesota, and Kentucky. It is important for nurses to check their state’s RN credentialing body for exact CEU requirements.  

    Part Nine How Do I Get A Dermatology Nursing Job?

    Dermatology nurses can work in a variety of settings including, but not limited, to: 

    • Hospitals
    • Infusion clinics
    • Cosmetic Dermatology practice
    • Plastic surgeon office
    • Spas
    • Dermatology private practice 
    • Burn Centers

    Job postings for dermatology nurses are typical of other specialized nursing fields. According to employment websites, a posting would likely include the following qualifications, among others specific to the type of institution and patient population:

    • ADN or BSN-level education, active and unrestricted RN license, Dermatology Nursing Certification preferred
    • Maintains Basic Life Support (BLS) competency
    • Prior professional nursing experience in the dermatology and/or cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology fields
    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills 
    • Ability to work flexible hours, which may include days, evenings, nights, holidays, and weekends and on-call
    • Computer skills required, prior experience with electronic medical record systems preferred
    • Attention to detail 

    For the highest-paying dermatology nursing jobs, see the Nurse.org job board.

    Part Ten Where Can I Learn More?

    The best resource for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a dermatology nurse can find helpful information on the Dermatology Nurses’ Association webpage. There is information regarding continuing education, conferences, certifications, and interesting medical advances. 

    Other helpful websites are:

    Journal of Dermatology Nurses' Association

    American Dermatology Association

    Nursing Scholarship

    Nurse.org

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