10 Steps to a Successful Dermatology Residency Match
"Competitions is intense with 400 - 500 applicants, most of whom are near the top of their class vying for one of the annual positions," writes the Department of Dermatology at the University of South Florida.
Dermatology can be considered a highly competitive specialty. "Each
year, approximately 350 applications are submitted to the Yale
Dermatology Residency Program; and approximately 30-35 candidates will
be invited to interview," writes the Yale University Department of Dermatology.
years, there has been over 360 available residency positions per year.
However, there are far more applicants than positions. In
the 2011 NRMP Match, 387 allopathic medical students applied to the specialty. Eighty failed to match.
As with other competitive
specialties, U.S. allopathic medical students fare better in the Match
than osteopathic and international medical graduates. The NRMP
classifies osteopathic, IMG applicants, and graduates of allopathic
medical schools as independent applicants. In 2011, nearly 60% of
independent applicants failed to match. Note that osteopathic students
may also apply to
osteopathic residency programs. However, positions are
limited in number, and the competition is intense.
According to the AMA and AAMC, there are 1,080 residents training in 112
ACGME-accredited dermatology residency programs. Ninety-five percent are
USMDs, 4% are international medical graduates, and 1% are osteopathic
Step 2: Understand the Selection Criteria Which Matter to Dermatology Residency Program Directors
To maximize your chances of matching with a dermatology residency program, you must become
well informed as early as possible. In particular, you need to know the
criteria residency programs use to select residents. We recommend
beginning with the following
resources: •2012 NRMP Program Director Survey •Selection Criteria for Residency: Results of a National Program Directors Survey by Dr. Marianne Green
interviewed Dr. Marianne Green, lead author of the above study, in an
article written for the Student Doctor Network. You'll find this Q & A very informative.
To develop a strategy for success, use our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match.
It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association
of American Medical Colleges, America Medical Women's Association, and
numerous allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. AMSA wrote the book "provides the medical student reader with detailed preparation for the matching process."
a web-based survey of dermatology applicants,
Dr. Matthew Zirwas,
Program Director of the Ohio State University Dermatology Residency,
found that 63% of applicants had either "a lot" or an "extreme amount" of anxiety about matching.
"Fifty-four percent of applicants lost sleep due to anxiety about matching."
preclinical years of medical school are important for students
considering a career in dermatology. Although clerkship grades and
performance are more highly valued than preclinical grades, your
performance in the first and second years of medical school can make a
difference. "In schools with non-pass/fail grading systems, high grades
may be an important factor in class ranking for nomination to the Alpha
Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Society and for the residency application,"
writes Dr. Ali Alikhan. "Additionally, because the vast majority of
dermatology applicants are outstanding, there is no need to take
students with low basic science grades."
so many highly qualified applicants, dermatology
residency programs also look for involvement in extracurricular
activities, community service, leadership, and research. The preclinical years are an excellent time to build these credentials. In our book, Success in Medical School: Insider Advice for the Preclinical Years, we
provide you with a detailed blueprint on how to stand out in these areas
as it relates to the specialty of dermatology. We
also discuss in detail how to initiate and cultivate a relationship
with a mentor who can serve as a strong advocate in the future.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Chances for Match Success After Taking the USMLE Step 1 Exam
USMLE is an important factor in the dermatology residency selection
process. In 2011, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors
was 244. Note that the mean Step 1 score has increased over the years. In 2005, the mean score was 233. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 227. Forty-four percent of U.S. seniors with Step 1 scores less than 230 failed to match.
Applicants with lower USMLE scores need to strengthen their credentials
in as many areas as possible, and work closely with an advisor to
develop a strategy for match success. Our E-document, The Successful Match: Dermatology Supplement, provides information on how programs use the USMLE in their decision-making process. Inside, you will find the answers to the
•What is personal statement content program directors would rather not see? •Should you personalize the statement for certain programs? •Should you do an away elective? •How important is an away elective in dermatology?
•How can you shine during the elective? •How many letters should be submitted by dermatologists? •How can applicants work with leaders in the department to secure strong letters of recommendation? •Whom should you target for letters of recommendation? •Should you obtain a letter from an away elective in dermatology?
AND much more
We combine a thorough search of the literature with inside information from dermatology residency program directors to give you powerful information. This will help you
make sound decisions in the year you have left before you apply. You
will also avoid common mistakes made by unsuccessful applicants. To learn more about our E-Document, click on the following:
Some applicants are concerned
about their chances of matching in the specialty or securing a position
in highly competitive residency programs. If you have such concerns,
consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai.
Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials,
assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific
plan to implement tailored to your unique situation and school.
Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to dermatology residency programs. In
a NRMP survey of dermatology residency programs, 64% cited "honors in clinical clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview.
"Clerkship grades from third year are undeniably important – this is the
most important year academically," writes Dr. Ali Alikhan. "It is the
year that is responsible for stratifying students to provide a measure
of clinical competence and significantly affects assessment of
competitiveness for residency directors. Obtaining as many 'honors'
grades as possible should be your goal."
We have developed a powerful resource to help you excel in core clerkships.
AMSA wrote that our book, Success on the Wards, "offers the
preclinical reader insight and an insider's view of what you will face
during your clinical years of medical school, and that will allow you to
really perform well. It focuses on the details, and those details will
be the ones that set you apart from other medical students." (AMSA
Review in The New Physician).
Residency programs require applicants to submit their completed
application through the Electronic Residency Application Service, also
known as ERAS.
my experience working with applicants, errors are common in the ERAS
Application. Although spelling and grammatical errors are frequently
seen, equally common and dangerous are the less well appreciated errors.
Chief among these errors is the use of language or words that makes an
applicant's experiences and accomplishments seem less impressive. The
words that you use in your description have a powerful impact on the
impression that you leave on an application reviewer.
These errors can prevent applicants from securing interviews. Even when
interviews are secured, errors in the ERAS Application can lead an
interviewer to downgrade an applicant's overall score. This can lower
your position on the program's rank list, and affect your chances of
have considerable experience reviewing ERAS Applications and can make
sure that your application is polished, professional, and powerful.
"I learned about Dr. Desai's service after reading his book The Successful Match. I was so impressed with the book that I reached out to him to see if he could help me match into derm. He's worked with so many derm applicants that he can easily tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your ERAS descriptions. We worked together to improve my descriptions, and I was so happy with the final result."
"Fantastic service that can't be beat."
"This was my second time applying for dermatology. First time around, I went with another service where I felt like a number. It seemed like they wanted to hurry things and move on to the next client. With Dr. Desai, you're never a number. The work was professional, fast, and top-notch."
For those applicants seeking even more
specific advice as it pertains to the specialty of dermatology, turn to our E-document The Successful Match: Dermatology Supplement.
Here you'll find tips and quotes from program directors offering
important advice about the personal statement. Understand what program
directors are looking for in the statement. What turns them off? You'll
learn how to avoid content that program directors are tired of seeing.
This will help you create a statement that sets you apart from other
personal statement, program directors seek to understand why you have
chosen to pursue a career in dermatology. In our E-document Why Dermatology?, you’ll
learn the reasons that led dermatologists to choose the specialty. The
document features actual quotes from 28 dermatologists.
"In my class, there were 15 students going into dermatology so I really needed to stand out. When we were done, I had quite a statement. In fact, my school wanted to use my statement in their annual residency guide."
"Going with you was the best decision I made"
"Excellent work. The essay was a big part of my success. I had 22 interviews, and matched with my # 1 choice."
Step 9: Impress During Your Dermatology Residency Interview
invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you are
considered a competitive candidate for a residency position. However,
your work is not done, and you need to be diligent in your interview
preparation to maximize your chances of success. In the most recent NRMP
Program Director Survey of dermatology residency programs,
“interactions with faculty during interview” and “interpersonal skills”
were the second and third most important factors for ranking applicants
with mean importance ratings of 4.9 and 4.7, respectively, out of 5.0
(scale from 1 [not at all important] to 5 [very important]).
In our E-document The Successful Match: Dermatology Residency Interview,
you'll find tips and quotes from program directors offering important
advice. Learn about interview do's and don'ts directly from residency
program directors. What are qualities you should specifically highlight
during the dermatology residency interview? What are the most commonly
asked interview questions? The resource also includes a list of
dermatology interview questions asked at interviews. This is a list that
we have developed from follow-up with our mock interview applicants
over the years.
our E-document, we provide you with an insiders’ perspective on the
dermatology residency interview process based on our own experiences
advising applicants, conversations with program directors in the field,
and a review of the literature. This is crucial information you must
Our experience has also shown that
applicants often sound the same in interviews. When this happens,
applicants miss out on an important opportunity to significantly improve
their rank order position. In our mock interview service with Dr. Samir Desai, we'll show you how to deliver winning responses that will set you apart from other applicants.
residency was particularly competitive this year, as most programs
revealed they received a record number of applications.
certain I wouldn't have matched without Dr. Desai's coaching. He uses
his previous coaching experience and intimate understanding of the
interview process and the interviewer to give advice.
reviewed my application and helped me find the theme to my individual
story to convey to my interviewers. We reviewed common interview
questions and tweaked my responses for precision and brevity.
possibly have been more prepared. All my responses were natural and I
left all my interviews feeling confident that I nailed it."
If you have matched successfully into dermatology, let us
congratulate you. If your efforts were unsuccessful, all is not lost. With intense competition for dermatology residency positions, some highly qualified applicants go unmatched. We have had great results helping re-applicants match successfully. Applicants who find themselves in this position should consider consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai.
Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials,
assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific
plan to implement tailored to your unique situation.
For those of you who have secured positions, you will find the following articles informative as you prepare for residency and make further career decisions in the specialty:
Thinking About Fellowship Training in Dermatology?
What does it actually take to secure a position in the
subspecialty and program of your choice?
In our book Resident's Guide to the Fellowship Match: Rules for Success, we answer this
Read the First Chapter
As with our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, we provide specific evidence-based advice to maximize your chances of success.
Includes a Chapter on Dermatology Subspecialties
We also provide consulting services to fellowship applicants. All applicants work directly with Dr. Samir Desai.