I was once told that family doctors can’t ever get enough exposure to dermatology and musculoskeletal/sports medicine, so I kicked off my fourth year of school with a two-week dermatology elective!
Admittedly, our education in dermatology in first through third years at my school is limited: we might have had a few lectures on the layers of skin in first-year, and in second-year, we only had two weeks devoted to the pathophysiology of BOTH the musculoskeletal and dermatologic systems. Whether it was stasis dermatitis due to poor leg circulation on my two weeks rotating with vascular surgery or fifth’s disease (aka slapped cheek syndrome) on my outpatient pediatrics rotation, I had some exposure to a skin disease on nearly all of my rotations. Still, it was nice to devote two full weeks to learning about many common conditions I’ll see as a future family physician.
The office at which I worked with was crazy busy! When all four providers and the aesthetician were seeing patients, they would sometimes see over 130 patients in a single day! After the first few days, I became a lot more comfortable at recognizing and treating more run of the mill conditions like seborrheic keratoses, actinic keratoses, and acne. I loved the mix of clinic time, continuity of care, and procedures on minor surgery days. In addition, I was surprised by how many medical conditions we saw with dermatologic manifestations. When I went home, the first thing I would do is do more research on treatments for psoriasis, and what kind of solutions to acne there were. I might have geeked out when a patient with dermatitis herpetiformis came in and we were able to diagnose him with Celiac disease!
Working with the specialists themselves gave me a lot of insight into what I’ll be able to treat myself as a family doctor and when I need the refer out. I’m excited to go forth with this knowledge as a fourth-year student, resident, and attending one day!