Conditions Treated
Our Team
Patient Resources
Contact Us

How to Become a Mohs Surgeon: A Guide

Book An Appointment
how to become a mohs surgeon

Exploring the Journey to Specializing in the Gold Standard of Skin Cancer Treatment

Imagine a career where every day, you're on the front lines in the battle against skin cancer, using precision techniques to save lives and preserve the health of your patients' skin. This is the world of a Mohs surgeon - a role that combines the meticulousness of a detective with the skill of a surgeon.

If you've ever wondered what it takes to become a specialist in this high-demand, rewarding field, you're in the right place. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the journey to becoming a Mohs surgeon, a profession that truly makes a difference.

What is a Mohs Surgeon?

A Mohs surgeon is a medical professional who specializes in the treatment of skin cancer using a highly specialized surgical technique called Mohs micrographic surgery. This surgical procedure is renowned for its high cure rates and minimal damage to healthy tissue, making it an ideal treatment option for many patients.

Named after its inventor, Dr. Frederic Mohs, Mohs micrographic surgery is a precision technique that involves the systematic removal and examination of layers of skin cancer tissue until no abnormal cells are detected. This process allows the surgeon to selectively remove only cancerous cells while ensuring minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

The Benefits of Becoming a Mohs Surgeon

Becoming a Mohs surgeon offers numerous benefits for those interested in the field of dermatology and skin cancer treatment. These benefits include:

Obtain a Comprehensive Skillset

After completing medical school and a residency in dermatology, aspiring Mohs surgeons can apply for fellowship training programs in Mohs surgery and dermatologic oncology. These programs provide a structured curriculum that covers both operative and non-operative education, ensuring that aspiring surgeons develop a comprehensive skillset.

Become Proficient in Skin Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Through their fellowship training, they become proficient in the diagnosis and treatment of various skin cancers, including basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. They are equipped with the necessary skills to interpret tissue samples, a crucial aspect of determining the extent of cancerous growth. This expertise allows them to provide the best possible care for skin cancer patients.

Have an Important Role in Achieving Exceptional Results for Skin Cancer

With their expertise in Mohs micrographic surgery, they can selectively remove cancerous cells while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. The precision and meticulousness of the Mohs technique lead to higher cure rates and reduce the risk of recurrence. This makes Mohs micrographic surgery the gold standard for treating common skin cancers.

Professional Growth and Recognition

Fellowship training programs in Mohs surgery and dermatologic oncology are highly competitive and only accept a limited number of qualified applicants each year. Completing an ACMS-approved fellowship program adds credibility and recognition to a surgeon's profile. Furthermore, being a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon opens up opportunities for collaboration with other experts in the field, attending conferences, and staying updated with the latest advancements in skin cancer treatment.

Requirements to Become a Mohs Surgeon

Becoming a Mohs surgeon requires a comprehensive and rigorous educational journey. Aspiring Mohs surgeons must fulfill several requirements and go through specialized training to acquire the necessary skills and expertise in this field. These include:

1. Complete a Medical School ProgramAspiring Mohs surgeons must first complete a four-year medical school program. This foundational stage provides a broad understanding of medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, and pathology. It also offers exposure to various medical specialties and surgical procedures, allowing students to explore their interests and potential career paths.
2. Pursue a Residency in DermatologyAfter medical school, the next step is a three to four-year residency program in dermatology. This specialized training focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing a wide range of skin conditions, including skin cancers. Residents gain hands-on experience in clinical settings, developing a deep understanding of dermatological diseases and their treatments.
3. Apply for Fellowship Training ProgramsTo specialize in Mohs micrographic surgery, aspiring surgeons must apply for a one to two-year fellowship program. These programs provide intensive training in Mohs surgery and dermatologic oncology. Admission to these programs is competitive, with applicants typically required to have completed an accredited dermatology residency and be board-certified or board-eligible in dermatology. Strong academic records and letters of recommendation are also important.
4. Undergo Comprehensive EducationDuring the fellowship, trainees undergo a comprehensive curriculum that includes both operative and non-operative education. They learn how to perform Mohs surgeries, interpret tissue samples, and develop surgical techniques that accurately remove cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue. The fellowship also provides opportunities for research and scholarly activities, allowing trainees to contribute to advancements in skin cancer treatment and stay updated with the latest developments and innovations.
5. Certification and Membership in ACMS and ASMSAfter completing their fellowship, aspiring Mohs surgeons can seek certification and become members of professional organizations such as the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) and the American Society for Mohs Surgery (ASMS). Membership in these organizations provides access to resources, continuing education opportunities, and a network of professionals in the field, further enhancing a surgeon's expertise and professional growth.
6. Obtain a LicenseTo practice medicine independently, Mohs surgeons must obtain a medical license. The specific licensure requirements vary by state, but they typically include passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX). These exams assess a candidate's knowledge of medical principles and their ability to apply this knowledge in real-world scenarios.

How to Apply for Fellowship Programs

Applying for fellowship programs in Mohs surgery is an important step for aspiring surgeons who aim to specialize in the field of dermatologic surgery and oncologic surgery. These programs offer a unique opportunity to receive advanced training and gain expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of common skin cancers.

To start your application process, here are some steps to remember:

1. Research and identify the fellowship programs that best align with your career goals and interests.

There are several renowned institutions that offer fellowship training in Mohs surgery, such as the American Society for Mohs Surgery and the American College of Mohs Surgery. It is crucial to review the specific requirements and criteria for each program to ensure that you meet the qualifications.

Below are some tips to help you find fellowship opportunities in this specialized field:

  • Research Fellowship Programs: Start by conducting thorough research on available fellowship programs. Look for programs that are accredited by recognized organizations such as ACMS or ASMS as these organizations maintain directories of accredited fellowship programs.
  • Talk to Program Directors: It is important to establish a connection with program directors, as they will be evaluating your application and may provide valuable insights.
  • Utilize Online Platforms: Websites such as the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA) or the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offer searchable databases that can help you find fellowship programs in your desired location.
  • Network with Peers: Connect with colleagues, mentors, and attending physicians who have experience in Mohs surgery.

2. Prepare a well-written personal statement.

This statement should highlight your passion for Mohs surgery, your reasons for pursuing a fellowship, and what you hope to achieve through the program. It is an opportunity to showcase your dedication and commitment to patient care and the field of dermatologic surgery.

3. Gather letters of recommendation.

Aim to request letters from professionals who can speak to your skills, knowledge, work ethic, and potential as a fellowship candidate. These should ideally come from faculty members, mentors, or supervisors who have firsthand experience working with you in a clinical setting.

4. Prepare your academic credentials and experience. 

This may include your medical school transcripts, curriculum vitae, and a list of your previous training and rotations. It is important to provide detailed information about your involvement in dermatology-related activities, research, and any additional relevant experiences that demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Once the application is complete, it is submitted to the program director for review. The selection process is often competitive, as fellowship programs receive numerous applications from highly qualified individuals. Applicants with a strong academic background, research experience, and a genuine interest in Mohs surgery are typically preferred.

Types of Procedures Performed by a Mohs Surgeon

Mohs surgeons perform a range of procedures, each designed to effectively treat different types of skin cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. 

Mohs Micrographic SurgeryThis is the primary procedure performed by a Mohs surgeon. It involves the careful removal of skin cancer in stages, with each layer being examined under a microscope immediately after removal. This meticulous process ensures the complete eradication of cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It's particularly effective for treating basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
Standard Excision SurgeriesIn these procedures, the surgeon removes the entire tumor along with a small margin of healthy tissue around it. This is to ensure that any cancer cells that may have spread beyond the tumor are also removed. The removed tissue is then examined to confirm that no cancer cells remain.
Curettage and ElectrodesiccationThese are specialized techniques often used for treating superficial skin cancers. Curettage involves scraping the skin cancer off with a curette, a surgical instrument with a sharp, ring-shaped tip. Electrodesiccation then uses heat or electric current to destroy any remaining cancer cells and control bleeding.
Reconstructive SurgeryAfter the removal of skin cancer, there may be a wound or defect left on the skin. Mohs surgeons are skilled in reconstructive techniques to repair these areas and restore the skin's appearance and function. This can involve primary closure (stitching the wound together), skin grafts (transplanting skin from another part of the body), or flaps (moving skin and tissue from an adjacent area to cover the wound).

Choose Dermatology and Skin Health for Your Mohs Surgery Needs

Embarking on a journey to become a Mohs surgeon is a commitment to providing the highest standard of care in skin cancer treatment. If you or a loved one is in need of such specialized care, look no further than Dermatology and Skin Health.

Our team of expert Mohs surgeons is dedicated to delivering precision and excellence in every procedure. With a patient-centered approach, we ensure the best possible outcomes while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. Trust Dermatology and Skin Health for your Mohs surgery needs - where expertise meets compassionate care.

Related Posts