After browsing our website, you may have noticed that we refer to our target audience as “dermatology clinical support staff”. Upon hearing this, we’re sometimes asked, “Oh, you mean dermatology nurses, don’t you?” The answer to that is yes and no.
As those of you who work in dermatology understand, many dermatologists (and patients) will refer to everyone who works in the dermatology back office as a “nurse”. Sometimes that’s true, but many times it isn’t. All nurses – whether a registered nurse, LVN, or LPN – have fulfilled certain educational and licensing requirements and are regulated by state and/or national boards. Their educational background places them among the most educated of the non-physician office staff.
For a variety of reasons, though, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find full-fledged nurses on the staff of many dermatology practices nowadays. One argument is that a formally-trained nurse is actually overqualified to carry out the routine clinical assistant duties typical of the average dermatology visit. Another issue is that the higher education and training that most nurses have completed also comes at a price. It just isn’t financially practical for most dermatologists to staff all clinical assistant positions with licensed nurses. When they are on staff, it’s often in a supervisory role or even as a provider (as in the case of Nurse Practitioners).
Rather than being comprised mostly of nurses, dermatology offices are now more likely to be staffed with medical assistants, dermatology techs, or CNAs. Many have some degree of formal medical education while others have only received direct on-the-job training. Even those who have undergone medical training still aren’t taught the practical dermatology knowledge needed to successfully work in our field, and that’s where we come in.
For years now, dermatology nurses have had the Dermatology Nurses’ Association (DNA) available to provide higher-level continuing education. However, those without formal nursing backgrounds have not had any educational resources written specifically to address their learning needs. Our mission is to provide that resource through our Certified Dermatology Tech e-learning program.
So does this mean that registered nurses, LVNs, and LPNs can’t benefit from our program? Of course not. In fact, we’ve had quite a few nurses complete our course and all report that they learned quite a bit. Because our modules focus exclusively on clinical dermatology, our program helps users to better understand that which simply isn’t taught in school. Our course is therefore particularly helpful for those new to dermatology, regardless of educational background.
Additionally, we’re also sometimes asked about whether our program is approved for continuing education units (CEUs) for dermatology nurses. At least for the foreseeable near future, the answer will likely remain no. As you can imagine, it costs many thousands of dollars for a course of our size to get approved for CEUs. In the end, perhaps 1 out of 10 participants in our program is a formally-trained registered nurse, while all others come from the previously mentioned educational backgrounds. The most common of those “other” backgrounds is that of medical assistants, hence our approval through AMT. Plus, nurses have the DNA as an educational resource, and we respect the role that they play. We will continue to monitor the enrollments in our course, and will re-evaluate this stance if/when the need arises.