Dermatology Blog

Introduction to Dermatology – What is a Dermatologist?

You might wonder what exactly a dermatologist is.  Don’t worry; it’s a common question! This fundamental question forms the basis for our expertise and recommendations, so it’s the perfect starting point for a relationship with our practice.

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in conditions involving the skin, hair, and nails and cares for people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly.  A dermatologist has expertise in diagnosing and treating more than 3,000 conditions, including common conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and skin cancer.

Becoming a Dermatologist

No one has completed more training than dermatologists to address concerns with your skin, hair, and nails.  Dermatologists have 12 or more years of education and training before beginning practice:

  • Four years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Four years of medical school to become a medical doctor
  • A year-long medical internship
  • Three years of dermatology residency, working alongside experienced dermatologists and completing 12,000 to 16,000 hours of treating patients


 Reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Dermatology.

After successfully completing residency training in dermatology, a dermatologist can become board-certified, completing a challenging exam on the knowledge and skills acquired during their years of training. 

You can tell a dermatologist is board-certified if the letters FAAD appear after their name. FAAD stands for Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

How I Got Started in Dermatology

On a more personal note, patients often inquire why I chose the field of dermatology, and I enjoy sharing my story. During my four years of medical school, I kept an open mind about various specialties as I gained a broad medical education and experience in many fields. Over time I found that I love seeing patients of all ages and developing continuity of care, enabling me to form long-lasting relationships with my patients. I also learned that I enjoy and am adept at surgical procedures but didn’t wish to spend my days in the operating room, preferring to strike a balance between medical and surgical practice. During the first week of my dermatology elective in the fourth year of medical school, my interests and strengths intersected, and I knew I’d found my calling. The rest is history! I feel very fortunate to practice what I love and serve the members of our community doing it.

If you have any questions about skin health, skincare, or how to maintain a healthy, youthful look, give us a call here at Franklin Dermatology Group and set up a consultation. We are always happy to help answer your skin health questions – 615-771-1881

Picture of Lesley Starnes

Lesley Starnes

Dr. Starnes is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD). She is also a member of the Nashville Dermatology Society and Tennessee Dermatology Society.