Seven young dermatologists will start their careers soon with a significant boost: a year of specialized and accredited training in aesthetic dermatology. They will “graduate” this summer from the first fellowship programs accredited by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
ASDS launched the Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgery Fellowship Accreditation Program in summer 2013 to promote comprehensive – and accredited – post-residency training in cosmetic dermatologic procedures.
The physicians are completing training in four accredited programs. They are learning the finer points of wrinkles and folds, body contouring, rejuvenation, lifting, resurfacing, veins, lasers, scars, hair treatments, research and more.
This new program fills a critical training void, said ASDS President Mitchel P. Goldman, MD, who also is a program director. “Although residents are required to perform skin cancer surgery and repairs of surgical defects in their dermatology residencies, they receive limited exposure to fillers, neuromodulators and lasers,” he said. “This is happening at the same time as there is more patient demand than ever for cosmetic procedures.”
The seven Fellows are unanimously enthusiastic about the experience. They have worked with some of the latest devices on the market and learned some of the newest protocols from experts in the field. They have seen firsthand how a medical practice operates, treated their own patients, been able to follow up on those patients and participated in research projects.
They have helped improve traumatic-injury scars and helped change patients’ appearances. They have changed lives, including their own.
“It’s been a fantastic learning experience and extremely valuable,” said Laurel Morton, MD, a fellow at SkinCare Physicians in suburban Boston. “The exposure – surgical procedures, lasers, other cosmetic treatments – is more than I ever expected it to be.”
At Goldman, Butterwick, Fitzpatrick, Groff, & Fabi Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego, Ana Marie Liolios, MD, has worked with patients, learned the intricacies of an array of procedures and participated in research. She said the training has enabled her to acquire essential skill sets and to become a well-rounded dermatologist.
Kira Minkis, MD, training at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation’s Department of Dermatology in Chicago, has found the ability to be involved in follow-up care very useful.
“We get to learn how to manage complications, which I think is one of the most important things to learn,” she said.
While many physicians have long offered fellowships, the ASDS accreditation matters, ASDS leaders say. “It provides a valuable credential to our young graduates,” said ASDS Secretary Murad Alam, MD, program director at Northwestern.
Accreditation helps ensure uniform standards of education across the nation, plus has the backing of a national organization, said Mathew Avram, MD, JD, an ASDS Board member and chair of the Society’s Accreditation Work Group overseeing the program.
“We have formal training expectations,” he said, “and the bar is set high.” He and other program directors urge other dermatologic surgeons to seek accreditation status for their practices or institutions. The ASDS program application deadline for this year is June 15 (visit www.asds.net/cosmetic-accreditation).
“This will have beneficial impact on the future of aesthetic dermatology and the training of the future leaders of our field, which is one of the core missions of our Society,” Avram said.
This year’s future leaders have learned many cutting-edge protocols and operations of new devices. At Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center in Boston, Anne Marie Tremaine, MD, and Lisa Xu, MD, both are focusing on lasers and their use in cosmetic treatments. “It’s been amazing to get exposed to so many devices so early in my career,” said Tremaine.
A pro bono initiative has provided fellows with other learning opportunities. Morton, Kathryn Kent, MD, and Emily Keller, MD, – all training at SkinCare Physicians near Boston – have found particularly rewarding their involvement in Project Heal, treating victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
“We truly have changed lives in a good way,” said Keller. “We are giving people function back. Instead of looking at the scars and seeing horrible memories, they can look ahead and put that time behind them.”
Accreditation focuses on six core competencies: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning, interpersonal skills, professionalism and system-based practice. Each program seeking ASDS accreditation must have at least two faculty members to support the educational needs of one fellow, and must meet ASDS requirements with regard to number of cases in eight cosmetic treatment categories.
Kent said the impact on their skills is tremendous. “We can’t imagine how we could have accumulated this level of knowledge – without the accredited fellowship – even after years of practice, clinical trials and lectures and experience.”