Shortage of Dermatologists Leaves Patients Searching for Alternative
By Stephanie Guler - Senior Content & Social Media Developer | July 8th, 2011
This year, the United States is experiencing a shortage of epic proportions.
Usually, the people of this powerful nation have everything they need, except one thing: dermatologists.
Skin cancer rates are increasing rapidly, and there doesn’t seem to be a dermatologist in sight that is able to treat patients quickly. Dermatology clinics all over the United States have long wait lists 6 months or more, but sadly for those with skin cancer, that long of a wait could be a death sentence.
To find out what all of these dermatologists have been up to, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco’s school of medicine did an experiment. The scientists called a total of 851 dermatologists’ offices all over the US, acting as worried patients. They told the various clinics that they needed an appointment to examine a suspicious mole and the average wait time to see a doctor was 38 days.
Jack Resneck Jr., MD, one of the study’s authors, now knows the reasons behind the wait times.
First of all, there just aren’t enough skin doctors in the US to treat the growing number of patients with skin conditions. Secondly, the large baby boomer population (mostly responsible for the increasing number of patients) is now facing the consequences of their sun-worshiping days, with more skin cancer cases arising each day.
“They grew up in an era before people really knew to use sunscreen. Many people were actually doing the opposite, and slathering themselves in baby oil and trying to get as fried as they could,” he told MSNBC News.
According to the American Medical Association, these consequences are very real. The group reported that more than 2 million skin cancer procedures were performed in 2006, which is a 77 percent increase over a period of just 15 years.
Some experts say that with 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer each year, this is a true epidemic in every sense of the word.
Dr. Resneck stated, “We won’t have enough dermatologists in the next few years to meet the demand. The most important thing we can do is help educate patients about what the danger signs are, when they need to be seen quickly, and how to advocate for themselves.”
Unfortunately, however, sometimes education isn’t enough. What happens in an emergency situation, where waiting for treatment takes a physical and mental toll on a patient’s health?
Well, there’s always medical tourism.
Thousands of American patients each year grab their passports and head abroad to get the health care they need.
Among many reasons, the elimination of wait times is a big one, and many medical tourists find health care overseas to be comparable, if not better, to the very same services offered in the United States.
Dermatologists in countries like Turkey, Cyprus, Argentina, Malaysia and more offer the very same treatments as American skin care doctors, for a fraction of the cost and immediate service.
When faced with skin cancer, or any other medical condition for that matter, time is of the essence. If you can’t get the care you need right away, there are always other options, which is important for every person to remember.
This article was written by the medical research team at WhereismyDoctor.com
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