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Diplomate Fellowship

SDPA Diplomate Education Programs

The SDPA offers a number of education opportunities through its conferences and journal, the JDPA, as well as other resources. For several years, one of our cornerstone educational and training tools was our Distance Learning Initiative (DLI).

The most recent iteration of the SDPA's DLI was formally retired on March 15, 2016. Launched in 2008, the DLI was designed to serve as an online training tool for the dermatology PA community. As we looked forward to the eighth anniversary of the program, it was time to consider updating the content to serve an ever growing population of dermatology PAs as well as ever advancing medical knowledge. In 2016, the SDPA began building a brand new program, from the ground up, which will be known as the Diplomate Fellowship.

The new Diplomate program is still under development, however we have provided a detailed update below on the program’s progress. Additional updates will be made through the SDPA’s newsletters, email blasts, and on

Click here for a current list of SDPA Diplomates.

Developing the NEW Diplomate Fellowship

The SDPA’s forthcoming Diplomate Fellowship program will be the premier comprehensive training program for dermatology PAs. The program will encompass more than 70 hours of learning spread out across 22 modules and contains over 90 separate sections (spread between the 22 modules). The Diplomate Fellowship will be the leading training program for both seasoned and introductory PAs in the field of dermatology. This program is built to complement our Job Task Analysis (JTA) (see below) and a core underlying text, “Dermatology Essentials, 1st Edition.”

To develop our program the SDPA decided to start from scratch. We felt the previous program, the Distance Learning Initiative was in need of a refresh. In reviewing that course, new information and education techniques and technologies, we decided to rebuild the program from the ground up. 

DACUM Job Task Analysis (JTA)

To begin our journey the SDPA hired professional psychometricians that would be able to guide us and ensure that the program being developed was set to appropriate psychometric standards. Psychometricians are individuals who are skilled in the administration and interpretation of objective psychological tests and who derive, construct and standardize psychometric tests. A job analysis is a foundational requirement of any valid credentialing program and helps to define the core knowledge areas, critical work functions, and/or skills that are common across a representative sampling of current practitioners or job incumbent workers. Empirical results from the job analysis provide examinees and the public the basis of a valid, reliable, fair and realistic assessment that reflects the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for competent job performance. For existing credentials, a job analysis should be performed periodically to maintain the validity of the content on the exam.

The SDPA brought together a team of 12 subject matter experts to develop a “Job Task Analysis” (JTA) lead by a professional DACUM (Developing A Curriculum) facilitator. DACUM is a quick yet highly valid job analysis technique. The DACUM process is used to determine the competencies that should be addressed in a training curriculum for a specific occupation.

The SDPA’s DACUM JTA took a number of weeks to complete, and once finalized, was sent out to the SDPAs database of dermatology PAs and dermatologists for confirmation and validation that it was correct and contained no knowledge gaps. In full, our JTA document is 147 pages long and identifies all the duties and tasks performed by a dermatology PA as well as the underlying knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes required to perform those tasks.

Framework and Learning Objectives:

After completing the JTA document, SDPA experts and our psychometricians met to develop a series of learning objectives for the entirety of the JTA. From these learning objectives the framework of the program was built during another in-person meeting of our subject matter experts. The final framework consists of 22 overarching learning modules with sub-sections covering all related content. Learners can expect to learn in a variety of formats including references to the core text, recorded PowerPoint presentations, short videos and more. Each section will have an accompanying exam that must be passed to gain credit. 

Program Launch

The SDPA plans to release the program in "phases" due to the vast size and amount of content that is being developed. The first phase of modules will be released in June of 2017 in conjunction with our Annual Summer Dermatology Conference in San Diego. Early sign-ups may be in for a few surprises and discounts, so be sure to start the program soon after its release!

By the end of the programs development, we will have had more than 100 subject matter experts contribute their time, effort, and knowledge to the program, and hundreds of hours volunteered throughout the development period. 

Diplomate Fellowship Program Accreditation:

Once the program has been launched, the SDPA plans to apply for accreditation from the Institute for Credentialing Excellent (ICE) through their National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) Standards under the NCCA Certificate Standard. This certification will provide added verification that our program has been built to the highest degree of educational excellence.

Becoming a Diplomate:

SDPA Fellow members will be able to take and complete the entire course to obtain Diplomate status. This status will not only provide them with numerous discounts and added benefits as a Diplomate member of the SDPA, but also elevated standing within the dermatology PA community.

All content will be accredited through the AAPA for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits and members will be able to earn and log credit per module as they make their way through the program. Although not yet decided, some modules and content may be extended into the larger SDPA member community, however obtaining Diplomate status will remain a benefit of being a Fellow member. 

Current Diplomates are welcome and highly encouraged to take and complete the new program. However should even if they choose not to, they will retain their previously earned Diplomate status for as long as they meet the SDPA's maintenance requirements for retaining the status.

If you have questions about current Diplomate status maintenance requirements, please  contact us

What Are the Benefits of Diplomate Status?

The SDPA is the only specialty organization that has developed a program that awards Diplomate status to experienced dermatology PAs. Having obtained SDPA Diplomate status indicates that a dermatology PA has achieved the highest honor available within the profession.

One of the primary functions of the SDPA is to continuously recognize and reward experienced dermatology PAs. Diplomates receive a certificate identifying their status and title from the SDPA.

SDPA Diplomates receive the following special member benefits:

  • Bragging rights & improved career opportunities
  • Even further discounted annual membership dues
  • Discounted rates to all SDPA conferences
  • Discounted access to SDPA CME courses
  • FREE access to the SDPA's Performance Improvement (PI) courses (20 Cat I CME each!)
  • Unique name tags at all SDPA conferences
  • Invitation to the SDPA's VIP events at SDPA summer and fall conferences
  • Public listing on the SDPA website on our Current Diplomates page
  • Special identification in the ‘Find A Member’ search and the ‘Find a Dermatology PA’ search

This unique accomplishment is will set you apart and give you not only a better understanding of dermatology, but an edge in your profession.

Important Information for Current SDPA Diplomates

Maintenance Requirements

SDPA Diplomates are expected to maintain their status by adhering to the three criteria below:

  1. Diplomates must maintain Fellow member status at all times. A lapse in membership may result in loss of Diplomate status.
  2. Diplomate must continue to work alongside a board certified/eligible dermatologist
  3. Diplomates must attend or complete one of the three items below every 2 years once they have obtained their status
    • Complete ALL available JDPA CME articles within the next 2 years.**
    • Attend at least one SDPA annual summer or fall conference
    • Complete one FULL set of recorded conference videos from one of our annual conferences available on the SDPA learning center. This does not include pre-conference fundamentals programs or workshops.

**It is important to note that JDPA CME articles are only active for one year due to certification restrictions. If you are unable to attend a conference in the two year period, you must keep up with the JDPA articles. Not all of them will be available if you wait until the end of your 2 year term.

*SDPA staff perform random audits to ensure Diplomates are in compliance with these requirements. 


RETIRED Distance Learning Initiative (DLI)

The DLI, which was formally retired on March 15, 2016, offered Fellow members (PA members who work for a board certified/eligible dermatologist) who had been working in dermatology for one year or more with the opportunity to gain well rounded knowledge and training through an online module-based program. 

The previous iteration of the DLI consisted of 10 modules. Within each module were a number of case studies specific to the overarching module topic. Each case needed to be passed with a score of 80% or higher to be awarded CME. Once all 10 modules had been passed, members were awarded with Diplomate status to signify their completion of the program and an advanced level of knowledge in dermatology. The previous DLI was AAPA approved for Self-Assessment (SA) Category 1 CME. DLI modules 101-110 were sponsored by CORIA Laboratories, Ltd.; DLI modules 001-005 were sponsored by Medicis. A member who completed all 15 modules could earn 82 hours of SA CME.

For reference, the following is a list of the available courses, and their accompanying CME credits, which were available under the DLI program:

  • DLI 101 Pediatric Dermatology – 10 CME Credits
  • DLI 102 Connective Tissue Disorders – 10 CME Credits
  • DLI 103 Cutaneous Manifestations – 4.75 CME Credits
  • DLI 104 Vesiculobullous Disorders – 7 CME Credits
  • DLI 105 Hair Disorders – 4.75 CME Credits
  • DLI 106 Nail Disorders – 1.5 CME Credits
  • DLI 107 Pigmented Lesions – 14CME Credits
  • DLI 108 Disorders of Pigmentation – 2 CME Credits
  • DLI 109 Dermatologic Pharmacology – 9 CME Credits
  • DLI 110 Eczematous Disorders – 7 CME Credits

Fellow members could earn a total of 70 hours of SA Category 1 CME for modules 101-110.

DLI Modules 001-005

As an addition to the DLI's 10 primary modules the SDPA offered 5 maintenance modules through which Fellows could gain additional knowledge and maintain their status. These 5 modules were also available to all SDPA member types to complete and obtain CME credit.

  • DLI 001 Skin Cancer - 3 CME Credits
  • DLI 002 Papulosquamous Disorders - 2.75 CME Credits
  • DLI 003 Fungal Infections - 2.25 CME Credits
  • DLI 004 Acneiform Eruptions - 1.5 CME Credits
  • DLI 005 Viral Conditions - 2.5 CME Credits


FAQs about SDPA Diplomate program(s)

How much did the original DLI cost? The retired DLI modules 101-110 cost $45 each for a total cost of $450. DLI modules 001-005 cost $15 each for a total cost of $75.

Can I still access the old DLI modules and system? No, the retired DLI program is no longer accessible.

I didn’t complete all my modules before the March 15th deadline!

  • Can I receive credit towards the new Diplomate Fellowship program for those modules I did complete? Due to accreditation restrictions we cannot apply your modules as credit towards completing the new Diplomate Fellowship.
  • Can I receive financial reimbursement for incomplete modules? No, reimbursement for incomplete DLI modules is not available.
  • Can I still obtain the CME for modules I did complete? Yes. Associated CME credit for the modules you completed can be logged in the NCCPA portal. Your certificates for completed modules will be available on your member profile.

When will NCCPA accreditation for DLI Modules 101-110 and 001-005 expire? The DLI is SA-CME accredited through November 1, 2016.

Where can I find my DLI certificates? Members can find their certificates by logging into their member profile and click on “professional development” to view all their SDPA obtained CME.

How do I get a new copy of my Diplomate certificate? Members can purchase additional copies of their Diplomate certificates for $5 each by emailing

I’m a new Fellow member and I’d like to obtain Diplomate status, what do I do? Stay tuned! We are in the process of building a new program. Once that program has been released you can begin your path to becoming a Diplomate.

When will the new Diplomate Fellowship be released? We are currently in the process of developing the new program. It is complex and our most important motive is to build a program with the highest level of excellence which members, their collaborating physicians, and partners will see as a valuable training tool for dermatology PAs. We will keep members updated on our progress, but do not anticipate releasing the program until June 2017.

How many hours will the new Diplomate Fellowship award? We do not know yet, but it will be over 70 hours. We will update members as soon as we more information available.

How much will the new Diplomate Fellowship cost? We do not yet have this information available. We will update members once the program is closer to release.

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