Skin accounts for 16% of the adult human body and is the body’s largest organ. Part of the integumentary system, its prime role is to serve as a protective barrier between the outside and inside of the body. Dermatology Nurse Practitioners specialize in understanding every condition and disease affecting the roughly 22 square feet of skin covering the body.
In this article we will explore:
- What is a dermatology nurse practitioner?
- What is the dermatology NP scope of practice?
- What are the services a dermatology NP provides?
- What are the steps to becoming a dermatology NP?
- What is the salary and job outlook for a dermatology NP?
What is a dermatology nurse practitioner?
Dermatology nurse practitioners specialize in the treatment of diseases and medical conditions that affect the surface of the skin. When a person’s skin is not functioning as intended, it can open the door to more serious disease or injury. The skin is designed to protect the inside of the body from disease and harm. It regulates body temperature and enhances sensations from physical contact.
Dermatology NPs can work with any age group. Some choose to specialize even further by selecting employment options that focus on children or the elderly, or those dealing with skin cancer. It is an NP specialty with several possibilities for further concentration.
What is the dermatology nurse practitioner scope of practice?
There are five competencies listed in the Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Standards of Care. They state that NPs specializing in dermatology will:
- Adhere to the Scope of Practice established by the Board of Nursing
- Follow the Code of Ethics for nursing
- Continue professional development to stay updated on dermatology best practices
- Maintain all certifications and licensing necessary to practice
- Participate in community outreach programs to educate the public about dermatology care and skin cancer prevention
What are the services a dermatology NP provides?
Nursing scope of practice describes the services that qualified dermatology NPs are competent to perform and permitted to undertake with proper credentialing and licensure. The official Scope of Practice for dermatology nurse practitioners says that the dermatology nurse practitioner can:
- Act as a patient care provider, mentor, educator, or researcher
- Assess, diagnose, treat, and manage acute, chronic, and episodic dermatology illnesses
- Collaborate with physicians and other members of a healthcare team to provide comprehensive dermatologic care
- Order and interpret diagnostic and lab tests, prescribe pharmacological agents and non-pharmacologic therapies, and counsel and educate patients about dermatologic conditions
- Refer patients to specialists for comprehensive dermatological care, as needed
What are the steps to becoming a dermatology nurse practitioner?
As with other nurse practitioner specialties, there is no fast track for becoming a dermatology NP. It takes years of commitment to earning the required education and experience before becoming a dermatology NP.
Dermatology nurse practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who have taken courses geared toward dermatology. Here are the steps involved with becoming a dermatology NP:
1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree
This is the first step in the journey to becoming a dermatology NP. The program can take 3 to 4 years to complete depending on availability for taking courses. If someone is not currently working as a nurse, it could take the full 4 years between working and schooling. Registered nurses (RNs) can accelerate the process with an RN-to-BSN program.
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN
Some nurses already hold an RN licence before they decide to advance their career by becoming an NP. If they already hold an RN license, this step can be skipped. All other candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
3. Gain Relevant Experience
Once you have your RN license, most nurses choose to gain some experience in dermatology care at the RN level. Other nurses opt to go directly to the next step, which is to apply to graduate nursing school.
4. Earn a Graduate Degree in Nursing
The minimum education requirement for dermatology NPs is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). It takes between 18 and 24 months to earn a graduate degree. There are RN-MSN programs available, as well as RN-DNP. Candidates who pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) often choose to work in academic or research settings.
5. Become a Certified NP
Obtain nurse practitioner certification by passing a comprehensive test that assesses your knowledge, skills, and understanding of nursing best practices. Nurses who pursue a dermatology NP license full time can complete the process in 5 to 8 years.
What is the salary and job outlook for a dermatology NP?
Nurse practitioners in all specialties make some of the highest salaries in the nursing profession. NPs in all specialties are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 45% job growth for nurse practitioners between now and 2029. As of real-time data from June 28, 2021, dermatology NPs earn an average median salary of $101,157. Ninety percent of wage earners in this nursing specialty make $113,382 annually. The places with the highest wages for NPs specializing in dermatology are:
- San Francisco, CA – $127,652
- Fremont, CA – $122,373
- San Jose, CA – $119,115
- Oakland, CA – $117,783
- Tanaina, AK – $117,370
- Jackson, WY – $114,972
Find out what dermatology nurse practitioners are making in your intended state of practice using the Incredible Health Nurse Salary Estimator tool.
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