The Dermatologist Shortage

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some patients are facing long waits because of a shortage of dermatologists.

    We've all heard the warning: protect yourself from the sun, and don't wait to get it checked out if you ever see anything suspicious on your skin.

    Dermatologist Shortage A Problem

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    Long wait times are customary for dermatology appointments. But with rising incidences of skin cancer in Texas, this fact is a growing problem. (Published Tuesday, Jul 5, 2011)

    But some patients are finding it can be easier said than done.

    "It really, really is a major problem to get in to see a dermatologist, particularly in larger areas like this where you have a big spread of patients coming in from smaller peripheral areas," said Dr. Alan Menter, a dermatologist at Baylor Dallas. "And the average waiting time, in Dallas, for instance, is about six weeks."

    Menter said six weeks can be crucial for some patients. He said there is an epidemic of skin cancer in this country, and rates continue to rise.

    It's not that young doctors don't want to be dermatologists, it's that there just aren't enough slots available to train them, he said.

    "We started a new residency program here at Baylor in Dallas," he said. "Last year, we had 400 applicants for two positions."

    Patients who feel their situation is current can always check with their primary care physician first.

    If you need an appointment with a dermatologist, ask if there are "urgent" slots available or if they can notify you of cancellations.

    You can also ask if a nurse or physician assistant can see you faster.