Dermatology nurse practitioners (DNP) are senior nurses who have at least a Master or Doctoral degree in nursing, and hold senior positions in the workplace. Their training is specialized in dermatological practices. DNPs are involved in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating health conditions associated with skin, hair, and nails. This may range from acne to aggressive forms of skin cancer. They will also be concerned with conditions like alopecia or dermatitis - a skin condition which causes rapid hair loss and inflammation of the skin. Some DNPs go on to specialize their training in areas such as pediatric dermatology, surgical, or cosmetic dermatology.
A dermatology nurse practitioner does not work alone. Their line of work involves interaction with other healthcare professionals like dermatologists, surgeons, oncologists, and dermatopathologists; depending on their relevance to a patient's care.
How to Become a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner
Because of the complexity of this field, prospective DNPs need extensive education and pass licensing exams before becoming licensed professionals. Students should begin by enrolling in an associate's degree or a bachelor of science in nursing degree program to become registered nurses (RN). The associate's degree is typically a two-year program which involves training students in the skills specific to the nursing field. The bachelor's degree is a more comprehensive program. The program usually takes about four years to complete, and it involves students taking courses in the area of nursing as well as humanities and liberal arts. The aim of this holistic education is to help them become well-groomed professionals and better problem solvers.
Following the undergraduate degree, students will have to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed to practice as a RN. A good way to gain practical experience is to enter a dermatology program in a hospital or other related facility. The next step in becoming a dermatology nurse practitioner is to enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing degree program. These programs typically last two years, and will build upon the student's existing knowledge of nursing and dermatology. During the master's degree program, students may specialize their learning in a particular area of nursing, like dermatology.
Licensing and Certification
Becoming licensed is necessary to practice your profession within the US; certification helps add credibility to your experience. For DNPs, the licensure examinations required at the end of each degree ensure that professionals are competent and able to handle their responsibilities. There are two professional organizations which offer certification: the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurse Credentialing Center. Being board certified by these authorities helps to show your credibility. These certifications need to be renewed at regular intervals.
Owing to the specialized nature of their practice, DNPs are highly-paid individuals. They may have the right to start their own private practice, or they may choose to work with professionals in a clinic or public health facility. As people become more aware of the importance of skin care, the demand for dermatologists could increase, which could lead to more job opportunities.