What is a board-certified dermatologist?

To be a board-certified dermatologist in the United States requires many years of education. One must successfully complete:

  1. College, earning a bachelor's degree.
  2. Medical school, becoming a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
  3. Internship, 1 year of required medical training.
  4. An accredited dermatology residency program, at least 3 years.

After successfully completing the residency program, one can become a board-certified dermatologist by:

  • Having a license to practice medicine.
  • Passing the exams given by the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Association, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  • Meeting other requirements.

The board exams test the doctor's knowledge, experience, and skills. All of the above are essential to provide quality patient care in dermatology.

                Dermatologist treating patient. Board-certified dermatologist. This patient has melanoma and is being treated by a board-certified dermatologist.

At one time, a dermatologist who passed the board exams was board-certified for life. Due to advances in medicine, dermatologists who more recently passed the board exams are required to retake the board exams every 10 years. Even dermatologists who are not required to retake the board exams often choose to retake the exams. Passing shows that the dermatologist has kept up to date with advances in medicine.

A few ways that dermatologists keep up to date are by attending advanced medical education courses and reading medical journals, such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

What does FAAD after a doctor's name mean?

Most board-certified dermatologists in the United States are members of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy). Dermatologists indicate this by placing FAAD after their names.

FAAD stands for "Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology."

To be a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD), a dermatologist must:

  • Have a license to practice medicine.
  • Pass the board exams given by either the American Board of Dermatology or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  • Be a member of the Academy.

When using Find a Dermatologist on this website, you may see FAAD or fellow. FAAD and fellow mean the same thing.

Other designations that you may see when using Find a Dermatologist on this website are:

Associate: This is a dermatologist who:

  • Successfully completed an accredited dermatology residency program and is eligible to take the board exams given by the American Board of Dermatology or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  • Is a member of the Academy.

Affiliate: This is a dermatologist who:

  • Has become either: 1) a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) and is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology or 2) a medical doctor (MD) and received board certification in dermatology by a board outside the United States or Canada.
  • Is a member of the Academy.

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