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Courses in dermatology

Dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties for applicants at specialty training level 3 (ST3). Despite this, most medical schools dedicate only a modest amount of teaching time to the specialty. With few national dermatology training posts before ST3, many budding dermatologists turn to courses to develop their knowledge and to meet leaders in the field who can give them useful career advice. 

Dermatology is an evolving field offering numerous subspecialties, including medical dermatology, surgical dermatology, paediatric dermatology, genital skin disease, and genetic skin disease. The number of courses open to trainees is growing. Some give a broad overview, others focus on particular subspecialties. 

For trainees thinking about a career in dermatology it can be difficult to choose the right course for their particular interests and stage of training. 

Dermschool
Now in its eighth year, this one day course gives an introduction to the specialty. It is aimed at medical students and doctors in the early years of training. The varied programme includes lectures on medical and surgical dermatology, as well as career advice for those interested in specialising in skin disease. Dermschool gives many opportunities to meet dermatologists who are at various stages of their training and to ask questions about their field. The course also includes a practical skills session that lets participants practise suturing, cryotherapy, and electrosurgery in small groups under supervision. 

Dermdoc
This annual one day course helps to develop the trainee’s knowledge base in dermatology. It is most useful for foundation or core medical trainees. Discussion focuses on common problems seen on the ward as well as skin conditions related to the many specialties linked to dermatology (such as rheumatology and infectious diseases). Those preparing for the UK membership exams for the Royal College of Physicians will find the material helpful when revising for the skin diseases which often feature in the exam questions. Audience participation is encouraged, and much of the teaching is through case based discussions. Abstracts are invited, and there are awards for best oral presentation and best poster.

Stitch-Up!
This practical surgical course is organised by the British Society for Dermatological Surgery. The course emphasises hands-on surgical experience rather than didactic teaching. Participants are divided into small groups and practise their techniques on pig skin. It is suitable for a range of skills levels—from those looking to practise simple sutures to those who already have some experience and want to be proficient in complex sutures. The course also gives an opportunity to gain confidence in taking punch biopsies and creating excisions. Participants become familiar with surgical instruments, and there is a comprehensive booklet that can be taken home for further reading.

Medical Dermatology meeting
Each year the British Society for Medical Dermatology joins the Royal College of Physicians and the British Association of Dermatology to show the connection between skin disease and internal medicine. The focus of the meeting is on skin disease affecting an allied specialty, with a different partner-specialty chosen each year to ensure versatility. Previous partners include immunology, neurology, and endocrinology. The course is appropriate for trainees at all stages of training. Abstracts are considered for poster and oral presentations. 

THESIS (The Skin Investigation Society)
This meeting is designed to introduce the young dermatologist to research. Speakers discuss the practical elements of starting research projects. Themes include the advantages and disadvantages of research, funding, getting published, and support for trainees considering research (including the role of bodies such as the Dermatology Clinical Trials Network and the National Institute of Health Research). There are plenty of chances to get advice from clinicians with research experience on making the transition from clinical to academic medicine, and on which stage of training to consider—an MD or PhD.


Essential cutaneous infections
This day long meeting gives an overview of bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases that have skin manifestations. Common and unusual dermatoses are discussed, with emphasis placed on infectious diseases that are becoming more common. Participants are updated on advances and emerging treatments for these conditions. The talks are delivered by leading experts in their fields, and the programme shows the close relation that dermatology has to infectious diseases, epidemiology, and laboratory based specialties. 


Annual meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists
Held at a different location in the UK each year, this conference showcases the range of subspecialties in dermatology. The programme has presentations from national and international leaders across all subspecialties. A proportion of the presentations are quite advanced for those without dermatology experience, but junior trainees can gain a flavour of what the specialty has to offer. Discounts on the registration fees are offered to members of the British Association of Dermatologists, and prizes are given to the best presentations across a variety of categories.


Biology of the skin
Designed for dermatologists at an early stage of training, this week long residential course teaches the basics of skin anatomy and function. This course is primarily of interest to those who already have dermatology experience, but some core medical trainees do attend to advance their understanding of skin mechanics before registrar training. Participants stay at Dowling College, Cambridge. Accommodation, meals, a walking tour of Cambridge, and a conference dinner are included in the price of £995. 

Useful websites
Events held on behalf of British Association of Dermatologists: www.bad.org.uk/events
Information about training and courses from the British Society for Medical Dermatology: www.medderm.org.uk/
British Society for Dermatological Surgery: www.bsds.org.uk/
Courses run by the Cambridge Postgraduate Medical Centre: www.cam-pgmc.ac.uk/courses

Donna Cummins

Year 3 specialty trainee
Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
donnacummins@doctors.org.uk 

Competing interests: None declared.

By Donna Cummins
Published: 02 Mar 2016