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  • Writer's pictureIvan Bristow

I'm interested in dermatology, what can I do?


This is a question that I have been asked a lot over the years by colleagues. Dermatology is an area which will always benefit from more podiatrists taking an interest. Around 59% of adults have a diagnosable skin condition on their feet [1] and so we know from research there is no shortage of work in this area. In addition, many GP’s have little or sometimes no specific training in the field and so the need for healthcare practitioners to have an interest in this area. In this blog I will try to make some suggestions about how you can begin to delve into the wonderful world of dermatology.



A pile of dermatology textbooks
Learning can start with the right textbooks!


The first thing to consider is your work situation. If you are employed in the NHS or private practice is this something you have discussed with your manager? In many circumstances there may be support available to help you further your knowledge and career in this direction. As an associate podiatrist however, it is more likely that it is up to you to develop your own pathway, but that shouldn't put you off.

 

Starting out myself in dermatology in the late 1980’s, there wasn’t anything on offer for podiatrists. My only source of information came in the form of textbooks, a few medical journals, attending events which weren’t particularly podiatry focused and a lot of determination and enthusiasm to update my knowledge. These days things have changed for the better and a number of avenues now exist.



Top Tip 1 - Read


Read, read and read. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and learning about dermatological conditions. The good news is that there is plenty of quality material to browse through on the web. My recommendation includes the PCDS website which is one of the most widely accessed dermatology resources in the world today. As well as hosting information on specific conditions, it has a unique dermatological diagnostic tool which is helpful for the beginner when faced with a rash or eruption on the skin. I have covered the website in an earlier review.


Secondly, with changes to publishing, a lot of quality journals are open access - free to read and download articles with many titles in dermatology including JAAD case reports, JEADV clinical practice and the excellent Skin Health and Disease. A whole list of journals can be found here.


See top tip 4 below for recommended books.



Top Tip 2 - Educational Meetings


Educational meetings are a great way to not only learn about the subject but also to meet like minded professionals. The Primary Care Dermatology Society welcomes membership from podiatrists and offers a vast array of face to face and online courses. For those completely new to the field, their “Dermatology from Scratch” is a beginners course covering the essentials of dermatology. From there you can go onto essential dermatology courses and join the many regional and national meetings around the UK. Courses are competitively priced and well received. Other groups include the British Dermatological Nursing Group (BDNG) and the British Hair and Nail Society (BHNS).



Top Tip 3 - Further Study


If you would like to go further, how about studying for a post-graduate diploma or Masters degree in the field? A growing number of podiatrists have enrolled and completed their MSc in this field to enhance their knowledge and practice. Courses are hosted by a few Universities including the University of Hertfordshire which has recently launched its lower limb dermatology module 



Top Tip 4 - Reading List


Suggested reading. What would be the core texts for someone developing an interest? There are lots to choose from so I would only suggest those I have found useful, but there are others. Here are my essential reading :

 


The front cover of dermatology training handbook
A great book to get you started in dermatology

Dermatology Training - The essentials. I reviewed this book on this website here.


Rooks Dermatology Handbook. I reviewed this book on the website here.


Dermatology Training. A handbook for medical students and junior doctors. This book is free to download here


 Scher and Daniel's Nails. I reviewed this book on my blog here.


 

Top Tip - 5 A clinical Journal


Keep a clinical journal. One of the most useful things I have is also the most simple - a notepad and pen. What you use it for is up to you, but I find it's good to record notes from conferences, talks and meetings. In addition, take it into the clinic and as you come across anything new, or identify new areas where you need to research and explore. It's a great portable record. And, don't forget, if you have to submit an audit for the HCPC, everything that is recorded here will help you identify CPD activities you have undertaken.




Top Tip 6 - To boldly go where no podiatrist has gone before....



To boldly go where few podiatrists have gone before. When I was starting out I would attend as many dermatological educational events as possible even if they weren't foot related, because it's important to realise that even when we are foot focussed having the broad knowledge of dermatology is important as it helps to reinforce and understand various conditions. Patients come in with foot problems but recognising a skin disease elsewhere can help confirm a diagnosis.  Besides, it was often at these events that I met other people in related fields to build up useful future networks.

 

And finally.....


Finally, make sure you are subscribed to the www.foot.expert website. I try and offer regular updates, blogs and host a monthly webinar on a dermatological topic. After 8 years, the library of blogs is substantial. Use the search box to search on any keyword to find relevant articles.



 Reference



1.           Roseeuw D: Achilles foot screening project:preliminary results of patients screened by dermatologists. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 1999, 12 (supp 1):S6-S9.

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