As I went through
third year, I considered Peds and then Medicine. During Medicine,
one of my residents was a derm resident who was double boarding in
Derm and Medicine. He got me inspired. It was June by this point.
I had never even considered Derm before this. I did a one month rotation
in it and loved it. Peds was too much peds. I also applied in medicine
as a back-up which I love as well, but you get to see kids and adults
in Derm and you get to think about diseases systemically like internal.
I have to say I am also into the satisfaction of small surgical procedures
which derm has as well.
did you prepare yourself for application to your chosen specialty?
Sad as it seems,
I think I would not have even got an interview if I did not have
a PhD. At least the programs I interviewed with were very interested
in the dual degree. Many people on the interview trail were dual
degree. My research was in prostate cancer (molecular biology). I
only did the one month of dermatology. I did one month of infectious
disease, a sub-interest of mine within derm. After the application
season, I did a tropical medicine/tropical derm rotation in Brazil...this
was very cool.
wrote your letters of recommendation for your application?
My PhD advisor,
my internal medicine attending, and two derm attendings wrote letters.
The two from the derm attendings were mediocre as I had only spent
a month with them and not that intensively. Neither of them were
famous or senior attendings at all. My PhD advisor and my medicine
attending letters were stellar and I was counting on this. My deans
letter was pretty good.
programs did you apply to and why?
I applied to a about
24 residency programs, including programs in the West and East coasts,
many of which were university or academic based programs. These included:
UCSF, UCSD, UCLA, UW, NYU, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY, Brooklyn, Harvard,
BU/Tufts, Brown University, Roger Williams, University of Colorado,
Dartmouth, Mount Sinai,Upenn, and Hahnemann.
kinds of questions did programs tend to ask you?
Why do you want
to go into derm? Why do you want to come to x? Do you want to do
research after or during residency?
would you have done differently in applying?
was the most difficult part of the application process?
and copies of letters of rec. I think they are moving towards a universal
application though. Travel for derm and prelim and medicine interviews
was a bit taxing as well. The interviews themselves ranged from really
mellow to a thorough grilling about what you know about derm (though
this was rare).
should I look for on my interview and tour day?
Quality and quantity
of attendings. Personalities especially. This is who you'll be working
with day in and day out in the clinic. There isn't much other exposure.
Patient population if this is important to you.
questions should I ask of residents, faculty, and program directors?
Location and the general feel that residents have of the area and
their surroundings. I think my life outside the hospital is very
important to me. I got my first choice and was very happy with the
did you form your rank list?
This field is very
competitive. It's a cool specialty with a good lifestyle where you
get to mix medicine and surgery, peds and adults, men and women,
and all demographics and social classes. If you are considering derm,
you should have some sort of catch. A stellar track record, a PhD,
something else really interesting, you found a cure for the common
wart, etc. The admission committees are in a position to pick and
choose. There was not one empty spot nationwide for the scramble
I think. Typically, there are 400 to 700 applications for 1 to 6
spots (usually 2 or 3). Consider a specialized interest within dermatology
and focus on this during your interviews. This might make you stand
out and make you seem as though you are especially interested. Lastly,
have a backup strategy and apply to that specialty. It takes a lot
of extra work and extra letters of rec, but you are a fool if you
don't. I think 3 out of 6 applicants from my school didn't match