When was the last time you made an appointment to see a specialist? In some countries, there is such a lack of specialists that patients sometimes wait two to four months – or even longer – to see one. As current demographic trends show that a greater number of people are gaining access to healthcare, that people are living longer and their healthcare needs are changing accordingly, this shortage is set to become a major issue. The Dermatology sector is no exception. Indeed, the shortage of dermatologists is likely to become particularly critical in regions such as Asia, where a fast-growing population with greater spending power will cause the demand for specialist treatment to soar.
How can we address this problem?
It is a well-known fact that places in medical schools are limited, so only the top performers succeed in getting in. In the UK, for example, there were 82,489 applications to medical courses in 2012, but only 7,805 places available.(1) Places in residency programs are also limited and dermatology residencies are among the most competitive of any medical specialty. In the U.S, however, new medical schools and the opening up of additional places in existing schools have resulted in an increase in enrollment numbers.
In some countries, the cost of medical studies is a deterrent. Potential students are put off by the prospect of the considerable financial burden they will need to shoulder, particularly if they intend to specialize after their first medicine degree. But the returns in the long term, both monetary and in personal satisfaction can be immense. So, we encourage medical education passionately. Pharma companies also have their role to play. At Galderma, we are fully aware of the level of investment required to further the skills of dermatologists and are very pleased to be able to sponsor initiatives, such as the Euroderm Excellence training program, in which resident dermatologists from all over Europe can learn more about best practices and benefit from the experience of leading experts.
By making education a key component of our corporate responsibility actions, we think we can make a difference. After all, the future of dermatology also depends on making sure that there will be enough dermatologists to go around.