You have invested valuable time and resources to ensure your dermatology clinic offers patients a professional and confidence-earning experience. As such, it’s vital to ensure your practice aligns with a qualified dermatopathology group to provide the highest level of service and help secure long-term patient loyalty.

Developing a solid reputation in your community and throughout the healthcare industry requires dedication and paying close attention to the details. Focusing that same energy into vetting the training, experience, and reporting and communication skills of dermatopathology groups will help you align with a professional group that strengthens your practice.

Appropriate Training
Verifying a dermatopathologist is certified from an accredited institution is the first and most crucial checkbox in your evaluation. In the US, there are only 53 fellowship training programs for dermatopathology. Completing one of these competitive, board-certified programs confirms a dermatopathologist is trained in all aspects of laboratory and diagnostic dermatopathology. 

Certification also indicates the dermatopathologist worked with a variety and high quantity of skin specimens in training. As a result, the individual should have the ability to diagnose a variety of dermatological conditions with confidence.

While certification is a sign of proper training, it does not always signify that the dermatopathologist was exposed to world-class facilities and the latest in pathology technology. Many programs embrace the cutting-edge convenience and efficiency of digital pathology, which PathologyWatch makes available in the private sector. However, just as certification is a sign of proper training, it’s equally essential that dermatopathologists don’t let their board certification lapse, as 7 percent of practicing pathologists are not board-certified.

Measurable Experience
Once a dermatopathologist receives certification, it’s important to note where and how long she or he has practiced. While nearly 25 percent of dermatopathologists pursue careers in academia, the majority turn to the private sector to work in hospitals and pathology laboratories. 

With a workload that can increase 5 to 10 percent annually, pathologists working in busy labs have experience reviewing a large number of skin biopsies that feature a broad assortment of conditions. On the other hand, an individual working at a smaller hospital may have limited experience when it comes to variety or volume. 

Clear Reporting and Communication
It is also vital to determine if the dermatopathology group you are considering can communicate clearly and with scientific accuracy. While errors occur in only 1 percent of pathology reporting, that’s still enough to impact patient care and introduce legal repercussions.

Instead of long reports that don’t provide direct answers, consider dermatopathologists who convey what they know with self-assurance. In cases where they don’t feel 100 percent sure about a diagnosis, it’s equally important to know they will seek second opinions.

A valuable dermatopathology partner will be available to communicate whenever you have questions about a diagnosis. In addition to accessibility, make sure the dermatopathologist is comfortable talking about correlating diagnosis with clinical features and using correct medical terms. 

The safety and satisfaction of your patients are in your hands. Seeking a qualified dermatopathology group with the right training, experience, and communication skills will help you provide the quality of care that your dermatology clinic deserves.