We know choosing a dermatologist can sometimes be a difficult process. Your health is important and you want a physician who is prepared to provide you with the best possible treatment. 

Arming yourself with the right questions can help you make the best choice. You’ll be prepared to establish a great patient doctor relationship. You’ll know you’re being cared for by a competent, well-trained, caring physician. And you’ll rest assured you’re receiving the best dermatologic care available. 

These 10 questions will get you started on the right path to choosing the best dermatologist. Many of them can be researched online or found on the practice’s website. For those questions that can’t, don’t be afraid to ask the staff or provider directly.

An informed patient is a patient who is on his or her way to good skin health.

1. Is the physician both licensed and board-certified in dermatology?

Two of the most important distinctions for physicians are licensure and board-certification.

But what is the difference between the two?

Licensure indicates that the doctor has been issued a permit to practice medicine by the state. It means the minimal training and competency requirements have been met according to the state issuing the license.

Board certification means that the physician has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements established. As stated by U.S. News & Report, a board certified physician has received extra education and study in a speciality. He or she has then passed a test based on that education and study. To maintain licensure, physicians must complete a required amount of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and retest at least every 10 years.

At our dermatology practice in Martinsburg and Hagerstown, Dr. Hurst is both licensed and board certified. He exceeds all the requirements for both in an effort to provide the best dermatology care to his patients.

2. Did the physician receive his or her medical training from an accredited institution?

Becoming trained in the field of dermatology requires a 4 step collegiate process that usually requires 12 years to complete.

First, individuals must complete an undergraduate degree, usually in a scientific field. Next, he or she must apply to, get accepted in, and complete a 4 year medical school program. Following medical school, he or she must complete one year of residency in a primary care field, such as internal medicine. Finally, he or she must complete a 3 year residency in the field of dermatology.

It is always strongly recommended for physicians in any field to have received training from schools that are accredited. Accreditation is important because it means the program has met certain quality standards.  National agencies only issue accreditation to schools that provide rigorous academic and practicum training by highly trained instructors.

Dr. Hurst received an undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and a Doctorate of Medicine from Marshall University. He completed a year of internal medicine residency at Marshall University. He then completed a residency in dermatology at the Medical College of Georgia.

The institutions in which Dr. Hurst received his training are accredited and meet the high standards required by that accreditation.

3. Did the physician receive dermatologic training in an area with a diverse population?

Dermatology is a highly visual specialty that requires a trained eye. In fact, many skin conditions can look very similar. To make an accurate diagnosis, dermatologists must be experiencing and well-trained.

This is especially true when it comes to differing skin tones. Some skin conditions can look much different on Caucasian skin than they might on African American skin.

Likewise, skin conditions can present differently in children as opposed to adults.

The best dermatologists are ones who are well trained on various skin tones on a variety of ages.

At the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University’s Department of Dermatology, Dr. Hurst cared for a varied patient population. The racial and age diversity of patients allowed him to train on many different skin types. Additionally, an on-staff fellowship trained pediatric dermatologist provided additional instruction in pediatric skin disease and conditions.

At his dermatology practice in Hagerstown and Martinsburg, Dr. Hurst continues to provide care to a diverse patient population. Our office prides itself in meeting the dermatologic needs of the community.

4. Was the physician’s dermatology residency staffed with a board-certified Mohs surgeon?

One of the most serious forms of skin disease is skin cancer. And finding the best dermatologist in your area means finding a physician who is well trained in treating skin cancer.

While a variety of skin cancer treatment options are available, Mohs surgery is often the best for certain kinds of skin cancer. Mohs surgery is especially useful for skin cancers located in areas where preserving healthy tissue is optimal. It is often performed on cancers located around the mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and hands.

Mohs surgeons require additional training and certification. They must meet the standards set forth by the American Board of Dermatology for licensure in micrographic dermatologic surgery. Some offices refer to other practices for Mohs surgery if they don’t have an on-staff Mohs surgeon.

As a certified Mohs surgeon in Hagerstown and Martinsburg, Dr. Hurst is able to provide this specialized treatment. We are happy to be able to provide our patients the ease and comfort of receiving the best skin cancer treatment locally. Instead of traveling out of town for Mohs treatment, all procedures are done in our offices in Hagerstown and Martinsburg.

5. Does the physician stay up-to-date with the latest advances in dermatology?

Medical knowledge is ever changing and growing. To provide the best dermatology care, physicians must stay up to date with the latest developments and advancements.

At our dermatology offices in Martinsburg and Hagerstown, our providers stay up to date on current dermatology recommendations. Dr. Hurst and our three nurse practitioners complete extensive Continuing Medical Education requirements annually.

Your skin health is important to us and we want to provide you the latest in dermatologic advances.

6. Does the physician receive good ratings for both effective treatment and bedside manner?

In communities like Hagerstown and Martinsburg, a great way to find the best dermatologist is word of mouth. Asking family and friends for recommendations is a helpful way to find a knowledgeable and caring physician.

In addition to finding a dermatologist who is knowledgeable and well trained, it’s important to find one who is caring. A good bedside manner, as it is often referred to, is a big part of good overall care.

Our staff at the Center for Dermatology consistently receives recommendations from the community. We feel honored to have the opportunity to provide dermatologic care to the patients who entrust us with their care.

We also receive excellent ratings on Google. We encourage you to check us out and we thank the many patients who have left such kind reviews.

7. Does the physician have a good referral relationship with other medical specialties in the area?

One of the keys to excellent medical care is employing a multi-speciality approach. The human body is a wonderful and complex system. It often takes a team to fully address the needs of a patient.

When choosing a dermatologist, it’s important to find one who is part of a support network, either formally or informally. The physician should have easy access to other medical professionals to whom he or she can refer. He or she should likewise take referrals from other physicians.

Dr. Hurst has established reciprocal relationships with a wide network of physicians over the years. As a local to the area, he is very familiar with the speciality and primary care resources available. He believes in working with a team to best address the needs of his patients.

8. Does the physician have a good team of medical professionals within his or her practice to provide support?

A good support team cannot be underestimated when it comes to finding the best dermatologist. Receiving great care requires a welcoming front office staff, well trained nurse practitioners, and competent medical assistants. It means an efficient billing department, hardworking Mohs technicians, and managers who keep the office running smoothly.

The team at the Center for Dermatology knows the importance of working together to provide great care.

We have three nurse practitioners who are a vital part of practice. These professionals ensure patients get seen in a timely manner and in a way that meets their dermatology needs.

Dama Vance, APRNP has over 17 years in the field of dermatology, being both a clinician and teacher in the field. She also provides field instruction to incoming medical professionals.

Sarah Byrd, CNRP has experience as a mentor, preceptor and clinician.  She utilizes her vast experience in nursing to provide holistic care to patients.

Rich Sutherland, FNP-C likewise provides mentorship to training physicians and nurses. He received his clinical training hours under the supervision of Dr. Hurst. This allowed him to be well trained in the needs of local patients. 

Additionally, our medical assistants are the best in the business and our front office staff welcomes patients with smiles. Our billing and insurance department stays up to date on billing changes and can help with your questions. Our Mohs techs are integral is providing the best skin cancer treatment. And our managers help patients and staff in a plethora of capacities.

We invite you to come in and meet our team of dermatology professionals in both Martinsburg and Hagerstown. We would love to have the opportunity to provide dermatology care to you.

9. Does the provider take my insurance?

Finding a dermatologist who takes your specific health insurance can ease the financial burden of care. Avoiding out-of-network costs helps patients avoid the stress of non-covered costs. Additionally, it’s helpful to locate a provider who understands that cost is a necessary part of medical decisions for many patients.

Our insurance department at the Center for Dermatology is available to answer your billing questions. We know insurance can be confusing and our goal is to avoid unexpected costs for our patients. We want patients to be informed and involved in the decisions that affect them financially, not just medically.

We participate with most major insurance and provide information on CareCredit, a program designed to aid in medical costs.

10. Is the physician in a location that is convenient for me?

For medical care to be effective, it must also be doable. In a world that demands much of our time, finding a dermatologist who office is conveniently located is crucial. If getting to the office requires a lot of time, it’s common for patients to put appointments off. That can mean not getting the care they need, when they need it.

Our dermatology practices are conveniently located in both Martinsburg and Hagerstown. Our Martinsburg location is close to WVU-East Hospital and less than a mile from Interstate 81. Our Hagerstown location is 10 minutes from Meritus Medical Center and close to Leitersburg Pike.

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