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    Deciding where to practice? Ask yourself these questions

    Neal Bhatia, M.D.Deciding where to practice and spend your foreseeable future is a big deal for young dermatologists. A few key questions can help you determine the practice destination that’s right for you.

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    As a rule of thumb, dermatologist Neal Bhatia, M.D., advises new dermatologists to first consider what’s important to them for the next five to 10 years.

    “For many younger derms, the first job is not their last,” says Dr. Bhatia, director of clinical dermatology at Therapeutics Clinical Research, in San Diego, Calif. “What’s important? And what are you willing to trade off?”

    Thinking five to 10 years out, these key considerations can help dermatologists choose their perfect practice location.

    What is my focus? General? Cosmetic? Cancer?

    Many dermatologists focus on where they want to live, not on what they want to practice. But type of practice and location often go hand in hand, according to Dr. Bhatia.

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    Dermatologists should do research on the market before they open a practice of their choice, to help ensure demand.

    “New residents in training want to open these big cosmetic practices in big cities, where there’s no demand [because the market is saturated]. They want to go to places that are more where they want to live, rather than where they want to work,” Dr. Bhatia says.

    Dermatologists who want to open cosmetic practices in Beverly Hills, Calif., where there is a dermatologist on every corner, according to Dr. Bhatia, are going to be fighting for patients against dermatologists who either already have an established base or an established legacy.

    “Why would you want to set yourself up for failure? Or are you prepared to go the long run in an environment that you may not make overhead for some time?” Dr. Bhatia asks.

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    Dermatologists who want to practice medical dermatology generally have their pick of locations, according to Dr. Bhatia.

    “If you want to start on your own in medical dermatology, the real trick is, where can you really handle living? Because the need for medical dermatology is nationwide, and you can go almost anywhere in the rural part of the country and not only make a decent income but have a really solid practice. It’s a little bit of a risk, and it takes courage to make that decision,” Dr. Bhatia says.

    NEXT: Where are you in your life?

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

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