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Dermatology Residency Questions

What advice would you give about getting letters of recommendation in your specialty?

Four letters from academic dermatologists would be ideal. Away rotations need to be set-up early in the summer so that a variety of letters can be uploaded by the end of September/October. These can be after Sept 15th deadline typically since Derm interviews tend to occur later in the season.  Spend enough time with the author of your LOR so that they can provide a personal letter (ideally a longer rotation than a couple of days).

What is the value of doing audition rotations in your specialty?

Auditions rotations are a must in order to secure academic Derm letters from nationally known dermatologists.

To what extent does research, publications, or presentations affect one’s ability to match in your specialty?

Significantly. The average number of research projects (papers, posters, presentations) is five for those that match successfully.

Is a Step 2CK score needed before you will invite someone for an interview?

Typically, though it is not required.  If Step 1 score is poor, a program may want it. There are a few Derm programs that want it before interview and many want it available for ranking in January/February.

What does the perfect applicant look like in your specialty?

AOA, high Step scores (over 235/240), did well on rotations, research, community service, compelling personal statement.

Does having a below average Step 1 score doom you in your specialty?       

Yes, pretty much. Many programs use Step 1 scores to filter the number of applicants to get down to a reasonable number of applications to review for interview.

Would you ever take someone with a Step 2CS failure?

Probably not, but only if there was a reason.

Does a student need to Honor in your specialty in order to match?

Since Derm is an elective, this is usually Pass/Fail – so Honors is not offered. Failing a Derm elective would likely doom your chances of matching.

The students have significant elective time during their 2nd and 3rd year for career exploration. 

What electives would you recommend to a student who knows they are interested in your specialty?

Plastic surgery, pathology, rheumatology.

What electives would you recommend to a student who is undecided but considering your specialty?

ENT (clinic and procedures), pathology/radiology (visual fields), other surgical subspecialties.

Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you feel an applicant to your specialty ought to know?

Dermatology is often ranked as the most competitive specialty. If there is a slight interest early on, then pursue ways to decide so that you can check all of the needed boxes in time to be a competitive applicant. Deciding late can cause Derm to not be a viable option. There are other avenues and networking helps in this small community. Occasionally students may match on their second application.  Students really need to think hard about what part of medicine makes them excited and happy about going to work every day! 

Dermatology Residency Data

Length of Training: 4 years (including PGY 1)

Mean USMLE Step 1 score = 249
Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score = 256

Mean number of programs applied to: 84.6

Programs: 117

Match: NRMP Main Residency Match

Prerequisites: PGY 1 (required)

Program Interview Invites (%): Completions (%):
Before Oct. 1 3 4
October 5 0
November 70 5
December 15 39
January 7 53

Average hours worked per week: 45.4

Sources: NRMP; AAMC
Updated: 03-2019