Whether you are looking for a dermatologist for regular skin cancer checks, to treat a skin condition, or to talk about minimizing the signs of aging, it is important to choose the right provider. You and your doctor will likely see each other one or more times a year, which means your relationship with your dermatologist will be an ongoing one.
First of all, let’s look at the reasons you might want to make an appointment with a dermatologist in the first place. Dermatologists are specialists whose education and training focuses on the skin, hair, nails, and oral cavity. The field of dermatology can be broken into two segments—medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology.
Medical dermatology focuses on diseases of the skin, hair, nails and mouth. You would see a medical dermatologist for conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or nail infections. A medical dermatologist would also be the one to screen for, diagnose, and treat skin cancer.
Cosmetic dermatology focuses on aesthetics. You would see a cosmetic dermatologist for treatments to address sun damage, pigmentation issues, aging, or other concerns that are not disease-related.
At Arizona Dermatology, we have physicians with expertise in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. We also offer a wide range of cosmetic services in our MedSpa. When it comes to choosing a provider that fits your needs, here are some things to consider:
Check the Dermatologist’s Credentials
Board certification. Before making an appointment, first ensure that your doctor is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology. Board certification is proof that the physician has passed board exams in their field and has demonstrated a high level of knowledge, experience, and skill. If nurse practitioners or physician assistants are working at the practice, you can feel confident that they are working under the supervision of a doctor who has achieved board certification. You can tell if a physician is board certified by reading their biography on the practice’s website.
Awards/Affiliations. Also listed in the physician’s bio will be any awards they have received. For example, Dr. Ko has received the Phoenix Top Doc award for multiple years, chosen by his peers. A dermatologist’s accomplishments may also be reflected in their affiliations, for example, if they are listed as a fellow, diplomate, or board member of a respected professional organization in their field.
Specialization. In addition to their dermatology training, some doctors will choose to sub-specialize or gain additional training and experience in an aspect of their field. If you have a particular concern or skin condition, you may want to see a doctor who has a professional interest and additional experience with that condition. For example, several of our doctors are certified in Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer, the gold standard in skin cancer treatment. You can find information on specializations in the doctor’s bio.
Other Things to Consider
Insurance. Different practices accept different insurances. At Arizona Dermatology, we accept a significant number of insurances as well as Medicare. If you are unsure about your coverage, contact your insurance company to ask.
Referrals. A good place to get information about great dermatologists in your area is to ask your friends and family members about their experiences. If you like what you hear from them, it could help narrow your list. Different people have different priorities when it comes to choosing a doctor, so keep that in mind when asking for referrals. Rather than just asking if they like their doctor, ask them their reasons to help determine if this particular doctor would be a good fit for you.
Gender. Some patients have a preference as to the gender of their doctor, especially for services like skin cancer screenings where the doctor examines your body for suspicious moles or growths. It is important that you feel comfortable with your dermatologist’s gender because you will need to be open about personal details. Sometimes a nurse practitioner or physician assistant in your preferred gender may be available to perform a skin cancer screening if a doctor is not. You should always be made to feel comfortable in requesting a certain gender practitioner for yourself or your child.
“Bedside” Manner. You won’t be able to assess this quality in your physician until you actually meet for an appointment, but it can help you decide if you’d like to remain this doctor’s patient or get care somewhere else. While bedside manner is very subjective, any dermatologist you see should give you their full attention during your consultation and address all questions and concerns to your satisfaction. If you have strong feelings about treatment preferences, you will want to find a doctor who supports those preferences.
Technology. Especially when it comes to cosmetic dermatology, you want to make sure the practice you choose has the best tools and resources available to them. Not all dermatology offices offer the same cosmetic services. Check their website or call their office to make sure they offer the ones that interest you, for example facial fillers, laser skin resurfacing, or IPL. Keep in mind, however, that during your consultation, you may learn more about the options available to you and the best recommendations for your skin type and medical history.
Reviews. Online reviews for specific doctors or practices can help you get a better idea of what being their patient will really be like. Reviews often cover things you might not have thought about, such as wait times, how easy or difficult it is to get an appointment, and the customer service level of the office staff.
Visit us at Arizona Dermatology
At Arizona Dermatology, we are committed to meeting your highest expectations when it comes to dermatological care. With office locations throughout the Valley in Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Show Low, Apache Junction, Coolidge, and Quartzsite and a team of board certified dermatologists and skilled, knowledgeable staff, we are ready to assist you. And if you haven’t scheduled your annual skin check to screen for skin cancer, now is a great time! We invite you to find your nearest location and make an appointment with us today.