Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

: 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 157-

Graduate diploma in dermatology, a distant-learning experience

Taige Cao 
 Department of Dermatology, National Skin Centre, Singapore

Correspondence Address:
Taige Cao
National Skin Centre

How to cite this article:
Cao T. Graduate diploma in dermatology, a distant-learning experience.J Family Med Prim Care 2015;4:157-157

How to cite this URL:
Cao T. Graduate diploma in dermatology, a distant-learning experience. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Feb 22 ];4:157-157
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Full Text


The distant-learning Postgraduate Diploma in Dermatology, organized by Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL)[Table 1], is designed for busy primary care practitioners. Most of us as undergraduates have 1-2 weeks of training in dermatology. Thus, we often feel ill-equipped to deal with the number and scope of dermatological problems that we come across in day-to-day practice. This course fills this gap in knowledge and prepares us as primary care physicians who may be remote from a tertiary institute, by optimizing our diagnostic skills and management abilities to serve the community.{Table 1}

 Why I Did It

My personal experience with rashes in the Primary Care Clinic was a confusing one as a first year medical officer in Singapore. All the rashes looked similar to me and I often had to prescribe combined anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and corticosteroid cream. Determined to learn the right way to describe the lesions accurately and treat them in a precise fashion, I began the arduous journey of plowing through thick dermatology textbooks. Often, I ended up sleeping at my desk after reading several pages. Help was badly needed for my headache.

I sought the opinion of some seniors. One took a diploma organized by QMUL and highly recommended it. Coupled with my strong desire to master dermatology, signing up for the course seemed like a natural step-up for me to learn the ropes when I was rotating in Primary Care. I was also fortunate enough to have free time at night to do my self-study after work.

 A Journey of Self-discovery

I remember vividly one of the faculty members saying at the very beginning of the course that it will be a fulfilling, stimulating, and enjoyable year. My year was truly like what she had described. Initially I was intimidated by the entire spectrum of dermatology covered. Yet, with each passing day, I came to understand that with a good system, it can be learned in a stepwise fashion.

Rome was not built in a day. On average, 7 h of commitment per week is required. Attending the online tutorial, reading the lecture notes, and studying attached journals make up the core of the learning process. This popular course utilizes innovative technology such as webinar tutorials to facilitate first class training in dermatology at a postgraduate level. Doing modular assignments is one of the growing pains. It consists of a topical essay every 2 months. As a model student, I even came up with management flowchart for specific conditions.


I highly recommend this course. Now I can confidently manage common dermatological conditions and discuss advanced management strategies like the use of biologics. It was well organized with short, clinically relevant tutorials on the topics with lectures interspersed, and achievement of clinical competency was properly paced with graduated difficulty. Faculty and instructors were helpful and approachable. The incorporation of more tutorial and interactive quizzes to foster some healthy competition amongst participants may be a welcome addition to future editions of this intensive but highly rewarding course.