Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

Dermatology Online Journal bannerUC Davis

Guidelines needed for academic titles within dermatology

Main Content

Guidelines needed for academic titles within dermatology
Jashin J Wu MD
Dermatology Online Journal 16 (2): 14

Department of Dermatology, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.


The system of giving academic titles to those outside of full-time academic practice should be re-evaluated.

I believe that the system of awarding academic titles to dermatologists who are not full-time faculty in an academic setting needs reassessment [1]. I applaud the teaching contributions of most Volunteer Faculty. However, in the Los Angeles and Orange County area (as is likely in many other areas), there is abuse of Volunteer Faculty who promote themselves as faculty of a university, even though they do not contribute to the academic environment and are not listed as a Voluntary Faculty on the university department/division of dermatology website. I witnessed this as a resident and now as an academic dermatologist without an official title from a university or medical school.

With the addition of 2 new residencies at Kaiser Permanente Southern California (Los Angeles) this summer [2] and at Case Western Reserve University (MetroHealth) this fall, I would like to note that there are now 112 accredited dermatology residencies [3] and 7 are non-affiliated with a traditional academic dermatology department or division. The faculty at these 7 non-university residencies often have to volunteer at a nearby university in order to obtain a Voluntary Faculty title.

I suggest that the premier association for academic dermatologists, the Association of Professors or Dermatology (APD), devise formal guidelines for dermatology divisions and departments to bring uniformity into the designation of the title of “Volunteer Faculty.” There should be designated titles and a vigorous promotions process with annual review. Perhaps the board of directors of the APD can draw up guidelines that can be ratified by the sustaining members. Then each individual dermatology program can choose to implement these guidelines at its discretion.


1. Venna SS, Loo DS. Academic titles: are they meaningful and what purpose do they serve? J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 61:898-900. [PubMed]

2. Wu JJ. Kaiser Permanente: a new model for academic dermatology. Dermatol Online J 2009; 15:13. [PubMed]

3. American Medical Association FREIDA Online search. Accessed November 1, 2009.