Finding a doctor you can trust is very important, and it requires a little research to find one who is right for you.
Start by asking your personal physician for a recommendation. She probably has a few dermatologists whom she recommends to her patients, and will most likely be familiar with the doctors in your area.
Medical societies such as the American Academy of Dermatology are also great resources for finding a dermatologist. The academy keeps lists of board-certified physicians across the country. In order to be board certified, a doctor must have three years of training in the dermatology field after completing medical school and general residency. In addition, he or she must pass a comprehensive exam on the subject.
A nearby university's medical school can also be a good starting point. Many faculty members also have private practices in the area. The benefit of having a doctor who is also a professor is that he or she is up on the latest techniques and advances in the field.
Once you've found a few doctors whose background and qualifications suit your needs, check to see whether they can accommodate you as a patient. Ask how quickly you can get an appointment; you don't want to have to wait three months to see the doctor. Make sure the doctor's hours suit your schedule; sometimes doctors have extended hours and also see patients on weekends. Some doctors also specialize in one area of dermatology, such as skin cancer or cosmetic dermatology, so be sure to ask whether the doctor has a particular area of interest.
When you do see the doctor, make sure she performs a complete skin checkup; even if you are there for other reasons, she should still look for signs of skin cancer. Also, you shouldn't feel rushed during the exam. Make a point of asking questions and note whether the doctor takes the time to answer them. Communication is very important in establishing a long-term doctor patient relationship.