Dermatology Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Dermatology nurses assess and treat the skin; they may also work with patients who have conditions that affect their skin and nails. Often dermatology nurses help people who have serious disorders like skin cancer. They also work with people with less serious issues like rosacea. They help alleviate itches, infestations, wounds, dry skin – and a whole lot more!

Dermatology nurses, like other RNs, have roles that include assessment, treatment planning, and assessment. Duties may be broad or focused, depending on the setting. The nurse might triage patients, prepare patients for procedures, assist with biopsies and other procedures, administer medications, change dressings, and provide patient education. Some dermatology nurses work in settings where the primary focus is aesthetics.

Dermatology services are often provided in ambulatory care settings. They may be provided in in-patient and sub-acute settings. Older patients tend to have more serious skin care needs.

Opportunities also exist at the higher levels of nursing practice. Nurse practitioners may specialize in dermatology. Their practice includes hair, skin, and nails. They may function at the provider level, with duties that include diagnosis and management. Dermatology nurse practitioners may carry out education and advocacy at an advanced level.

Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

Before a nurse can function in a specialized role, he or she must be educated and licensed at an appropriate level. The individual will complete a degree program and take a licensing exam. A nursing student may seek out clinical experience at an early stage.

Dermatology nurses have nursing degrees at the associate’s level or higher. There are some positions for LPNs in dermatology clinics, but their scope of practice is limited, and multiple organizations, including the Dermatology Nurses Association, classify dermatology nurse as an RN or advanced level role.

Dermatology nurse practitioners are credentialed at the advanced practice level. They hold graduate degrees.

Dermatology NP is a sub-specialty. The base certification may be as an adult, family, pediatric or geriatric nurse practitioner. The main credentialing body will be the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This certification is more fundamental than specialty certification.

There will be some difference in practice from state to state.

There are three ways to get the specialized training for dermatology practice as a nurse practitioner: through continuing education, formal post-master’s programs, and on the job training. On-the-job training may be under a Board-certified dermatologist or a dermatology nurse practitioner who has developed a high level of expertise. Formal paid training opportunities exist, but they can be sporadic.

Dermatology NPs develop expertise in more skills and procedures over the course of their practice (https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/new-solutions-dermatology-nurse-practitioners-biggest-challenges).

Dermatology NP Training Programs

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center offers a full-time residency for certified NPs. Residents work as salaried employees while receive education that prepares them for the dermatology specialty. NP residents have the opportunity to participate in weekly grand rounds, as their program has an affiliation with the Harvard Medical School Dermatology Residency Program. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center starts new cohorts every other year. Applicants submit personal statements, references and curriculum vitae.

Florida Atlantic University offered a post-degree NP dermatology certificate program for the first time in 2021. The program includes 480 clinical hours. Students are required to spend only a total of only nine days on campus.

Professional Certification

Experienced dermatology nurses may seek third party certification as an adjunct to licensure. There are two levels of certification. Dermatology Nurse Certification Board issues the Dermatology Nurse Certified (DNC) credential. The Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Certification Board issues the Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner (DCNP) credential.

The Dermatology Nurse Certified credential is RN level. A DNC will need at least two years of dermatology nursing experience, with at least 2,000 hours of experience accrued during the two years prior; this can include teaching, research, or administrative work, as well as staff nursing.

The three largest sections of the DNC examination cover the following:

• Assessing and monitoring patient status
• Planning and administering interventions and monitoring them
• Selecting strategies for health promotion, education, and psychosocial needs

Coordination of care is also given some coverage; it comprises 11% of the exam.

The Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner credential is available to licensed and certified NPs with at least 3,000 hours of recent experience; the experience must be from within the prior three years. Hours obtained in a formal dermatology nurse practitioner program can be credited.

35% of the DCNP examination is in prescribing and performing interventions. Another 35% is in providing education to patients, family members, health professionals and members of the public. Professional activities comprise 25%.

The DCNP exam covers ten types of condition. ‘neoplasms’ and ‘papulosquamous and eczematous dermatoses’ receive the greatest coverage (20% and 18%, respectively).The former includes conditions like carcinoma; the latter, scales. Next comes urticarias, erythemas, photosensitivities, and purpuras and photodamage and cosmetic dermatology (both 11%).

Resources

The Dermatology Nurses Association is a membership organization (https://www.dnanurse.org/).

The Dermatology Nurses Association has provided a scope of practice. The third edition was published in 2018.

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