Academy to firmly establish breadth and depth of specialty with robust campaign

torres-abel.jpgBy Abel Torres, MD, JD
President, American Academy of Dermatology

As the saying goes, perception often equals reality. However, when it comes to the field of dermatology, the Academy is beginning a major initiative to address common beliefs held among key audiences and taking a leadership role to showcase the comprehensive value our specialty holds in a changing health care environment.

Recent research has shown that our physician peers think very highly of us. That’s good news, especially in light of how the specialty believes it is viewed outside of the field.  

To health care policymakers, physician leaders and influencers, dermatology “owns” the treatment of skin cancer.  In fact, 84% of physicians interviewed in a recent poll believe that dermatologists are the specialty that is responsible for the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancers. However, what these key audiences may not fully appreciate is that dermatologists are also highly-trained physicians who provide care for more than 3,000 skin conditions – care that is life-saving, life changing, and cost-effective.

Stories from dermatologists and their patients will be the foundation of this effort. Your assistance is needed!


Other specialty physicians also noted that they respect and need our expertise. However, our specialty is often viewed as inaccessible – when other physicians refer patients to a dermatologist, they often find dermatologists’ schedules and/or insurance acceptance is prohibitive.

The bottom line is the full potential of our value is often misunderstood. Our research demonstrates a significant need – and opportunity exists to move the needle on this conversation. With the assistance of the Academy and its members, we can!

Over the past several months, Karen Edison, MD, FAAD, has been leading a work group which has formulated the messaging, goals, and tactics for the Academy’s new, multi-faceted Specialty Positioning campaign. To counter common perceptions, the campaign’s three core messages will highlight that dermatologists:

  • Treat hundreds of serious dermatologic conditions that have an enormous impact on millions of patients, their quality of life, and mental health;
  • Welcome a team-based approach to care as critical members of the health care community; and
  • Embrace innovative access initiatives, including teledermatology, to reduce geographic disparities.  

We need your stories!

Although a single specialty positioning campaign will not dramatically increase access opportunities, we can still show this issue is viewed as crucial to our specialty by highlighting specific examples of how this is already occurring.

Speaking of which, stories from dermatologists and their patients will be the foundation of this effort – and your assistance is needed! The Academy is seeking stories from its members who can refer:

  1. A patient who benefited from the care they provided for a severe medical dermatologic condition;
  2. A non-dermatologist physician whose consultation with them led to the right diagnosis; and/or
  3. A patient who was able to receive medical care for a severe medical condition.

To make our stories more impactful and reach our key audiences, it’s important that our efforts show the perspectives of patients who have benefited from the care of dermatologists and non-dermatologist physicians who have worked collaboratively with them. Your stories are greatly appreciated to support this important campaign.  Submit yours today by filling out the form below.

To say the least, this campaign will be robust. Through next fall and beyond, many tactics will be utilized, including a campaign web page, media, social media, and online advertising. We will certainly keep you appraised about the campaign as it progresses.

Thank you very much for your support and assistance in regards to this major initiative for the Academy.

Share your story form

Briefly, share your story about a collaboration between dermatologists and other specialists, how a dermatologist improved a patient’s health, or a specific effort to increase access to dermatology.