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Steps to a Successful Residency Match

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Home  >  Specialty  >  Dermatology

Step 1: Explore the Specialty

Before you pursue a career in Dermatology, it's important to be well informed about the specialty. We've put together a great collection of articles and resources which are essential reading for the aspiring dermatologist.


These articles will give you a better idea of the pros and cons of a career in the field, trends in the specialty, and hot-topic issues for trainees. 


Hot Topics, Concerns, and Future Directions in Dermatology

Step 2: Review Dermatology Match Data

Dermatology is 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.

Dermatology-Charting Outcomes in the Match for U.S. MD 2018

Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. All

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Allopathic Seniors, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Osteopathic Seniors

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Osteopathic Seniors, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Dermatology-Charting Outcomes in the Match for IMGs 2018

Charting Outcomes in the Match: Internat

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match for International Medical Graduates, 2018. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2018.

Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria

To maximize your chances of matching with your first-choice residency program in dermatology, 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:


Dermatology-2018 NRMP Program Director Survey

Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Directo

National Resident Matching Program, Data Release and Research Committee: Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Director Survey. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC. 2018.

Check out these other recommended resources

Step 4: Develop your Strategy for Success

As competition for positions in the dermatology residency match intensifies, it's more important than ever to have in place the "right" strategy for success. To develop the optimal strategy, use our book, The Successful Match. It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American 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." For more powerful information, sign up for our weekly update.

Step 5: Make the Most of your Preclinical Years

The preclinical years of medical school are important for students considering a career in dermatology. "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."

Step 6: Apply for Scholarships and Awards

Shailee Patel extended her medical education by two years so that she could immerse herself in dermatology research. She was recognized for the quality of her work by multiple organizations, garnering a total of 12 honorable distinctions. 


“Every student who spent a year doing research in our program has won one or more awards, but Shailee’s success is exceptional,” said Dr. Marjana Tomic-Canic, Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. 


Winning medical school scholarships and awards can provide a major boost to your residency application, and set you apart from your peers. Awards can be placed in the application, MSPE (Dean's Letter), letters of recommendation, and CV. We have found that interviewers often ask about awards during residency interviews.

Step 7: Assess your USMLE Step 1 Score or COMLEX 1 Score

Your USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX 1 exam scores are a major factor used by dermatology residency programs in the selection process. In 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 249 and the mean COMLEX 1 score among matched osteopathic students was 614.

Step 8: Strive for Success During Clerkships, Observerships and Externships

Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to dermatology residency programs. In a NRMP survey of dermatology residency programs, 89% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview."

Step 9: Prepare a Powerful Residency Application

In 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. 

Step 10: Develop a Powerful Personal Statement

In a survey of dermatology residency programs, 89% cited the personal statement as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. To better assess fit between the applicant and the program, some dermatology residency programs ask applicants to address specific questions in the statement.

Step 11: Deliver an Impressive Interview Performance

An invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you're 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. 

 What if I didn't match?

If you were unsuccessful during your initial match cycle, you'll need to sit down with your dean or advisor to review your match strategy. In planning your reapplication, each of the steps above becomes even more important.


For those who seek additional expert assistance, we can provide that. Dr. Desai has had significant experience in helping re-applicants match successfully. 


This is provided via a Strategy for Success Session. 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.

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