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Here you can access all the needed information on how to get involved as a dermatologist.

Access the Dermatology Timeline tab to get info on the first steps in your dermatology journey as well as the information you may need along the way.

Click on How to Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program to learn more on the residency process.

Go to A Model for Long-distance Mentoring to read about how mentorship can impact your dermatology education.

Timeline for Application to Dermatology 



I Talk with an academic advisor in your Office of Medical Education about how to get early exposure to the field.

I Attend Dermatology grand rounds and conferences during your M1-M2 years to get exposure to the field and meet faculty and residents.

I Make an appointment with the dermatology clerkship director OR residency program director to introduce yourself, discuss shadowing opportunities in dermatology, and howtoworkonsmallresearchprojects (case reports, chapters).

I Ask your academic advisor or dermatology residency program director to identify a dermatology faculty mentor in your homeschool.

I Try to establish a relationship with dermatology residents at your home institution. Make your initial interest in dermatology known to them. Share that you would be interested in writing up an interesting case with them.

If they have consult rounds, ask if you can shadow sometime (this is also a good time to find interesting cases for write-ups and/or presentations).

I Get involved in extracurricular activities. Exhibiting sustained volunteerism, teamwork, and/or leadership throughout medical school is valued.

I Develop relationships with faculty, advisors, and mentors on your campus.

I Identify summer research opportunities in dermatology.

I Familiarize yourself with the Mentorship Programs available to medical students, such as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Diversity Mentorship Program, and the Skin of Color Society (SOCS) Mentorship Program and Observership Grant 

Programs may be primarily aimed at 3rd and 4th year medical students who need a mentor that will help them polish their application for dermatology residency to make it as good as possible. Mentors are encouraged to help with publications and letters of recommendation. Other mentorship programs available to medical students include: Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) mentorshipprogram award-programs/mentorship-award-program.

I Keep learning the M1 curricular content as your first priority.

I Use an USMLE Step 1 Review book to review along with your medical school curriculum. This will help identify key board fodder early, along with USMLE Step 1 Style practice questions.



I Attend Dermatology grand rounds and conferences to get exposure to the field and meet faculty and residents.


I Participate in summer research opportunities in dermatology (at your school if possible). Try to obtain a publication in a highly regarded dermatology journal as a result of your research.

I Seek opportunities to volunteer in dermatology and shadow a dermatologist.

I Meet with your identified faculty mentor to reflect on M1 year and create a plan for M2 year.



I Keep learning the M2 curricular content as your first priority.

I Create a concrete study plan for USMLE Step 1 exam. Although this exam is now pass/fail, it is still important to study for this exam to help solidify the pre-clinical curriculum.

I Complete research projects or writing projects that have been started.

I Continue to develop relationships with faculty, advisors, and mentors on your campus.

I Attend Dermatology grand rounds and conferences during your M1-M2 years to get exposure to the field and meet faculty and residents.

I Meet with your identified faculty mentor to reflect on M2 year and create a plan for M3 year.

I Make an appointment with the Dermatology Clerkship Director (or if appropriate/available the Program Director or Chair) to introduce yourself and convey your interest in the field.

I (re)Establish a relationship with dermatology residents at your home institution. Make your initial interest in dermatology known to them. Share that you would be interested in writing up an interesting case with them.If they have consult rounds, ask if you can shadow sometime (this is also a good time to find interesting cases for write-ups and/or presentations).

I Apply for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Diversity Mentorship Program by November of your M2 years if you plan to complete this mentorship during the first 6 months of your M3 year mentoring/find-a-mentor/diversity- mentorship-program. Ask your advisor to help you choose a mentor from the AAD’s mentor list who has a track record of helping mentees improve their application.

I Apply for the Skin of Color Society Mentorship Programs in the Fall to begin the following March.

The SOCS Mentorship Program is a comprehensive program that connects young physicians and medical students with an approved skin of color expert from SOCS. If matched with a mentor, the program last for up to one year. Other group mentoring opportunities may be available throughout the year for those who apply but are not matched with a mentor program/.

The SOCS Observership Grant awards grants to help cover travel, room, and board costs for medical students (2nd- 4th year) to enable study with a SOCS mentor identified by the applicant



I Prioritize performance in core clerkships (medicine, surgery, ob/ gyn, and peds). Performance on clinical clerkships is of primary importance to seek a residency position.

I By this time, you should have a well- established relationship with a dermatology faculty advisor. Meet at least once during the year to review your application timeline and discuss your M4 schedule.

I Make an appointment with the dermatology Chair to introduce yourself and convey your interest in the field. Attend the meeting with a printed version of your up-to- date curriculum vitae.

I Reconnect with the dermatology residency program director to convey your continued interest in the field. Attend the meeting with a printed version of your up-to-date curriculum vitae. 

I Consider which faculty, advisors and mentors on your campus, with whom you’ve developed relationships, you’ll approach to write letters of recommendation for your applications. Maintain your relationship with them by meeting once or emailing an update.

I Attend any career informational sessions held by dermatology

I Apply to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Diversity Mentorship Program to plan for a M4 elective experience (if not done previously). Many students complete their mentorship month in the summer after their M3 year but before residency applications are due. If your medical school allows you to defer a required rotation during your M3 year, it’s a good idea to complete your mentorship month during your M3 year, as it will give you more time to do a project during the month and get the resulting publication accepted before September of your M4 year, when  your application is due. The Diversity Mentorship grant website is

I Consider arranging an ‘away rotation’ at a program that interests you. M4 dermatology rotation slots fill quickly. Your mentors and local residents at your institution can help you decide where to visit. If you have a home dermatology program, it is recommended that you complete no more than 2 away electives.


I Dermatology residency programs in the U.S. Public/ Programs/Search

I Minorities in Medicine to get information on groups underrepresented in medicine. choosing-medical-career/medical- careers/deciding-if-medicine-you/ minorities-medicine/

I FREIDA (AMA Residency and Fellowship Database) preparing-residency/freida



Prepare for and take the USMLE Step 2 exam before September so that your score can be submitted with your application.

I Attend Dermatology grand rounds and conferences to expand exposure to the field and remain connected to faculty and residents.

I Complete a clinical dermatology rotation at your home program. Seek feedback on your clinical performance, which can also be used for your away rotations.

I Prepare for clinic, read up on patients, and find ways to be helpful in clinic, such as by setting up biopsy trays and anticipating your teams’ needs. Be actively engaged in patient care.

I Consider arranging to do an ‘away rotation’ at a program that interests you. Your mentors and local residents at your institution can help you decide where to visit. Treat the away rotation as a lengthy interview.

I Complete ERAS application.

Have your mentors review your application and personal statement. Do a spell check!

I Turn in your ERAS application before the first day that programs begin to review applications (date varies, check ERAS website).

I Signal the residency programs you are most interested in. Dermatology offers 3 gold signals and 25 silver signals. Make sure to signal your home/ away programs if they are in your top

28. It is likely that most applicants will only receive interviews from signaled programs.

I Ask for letters of recommendation no later than August 15 if possible. Who writes your letter and how well they now you is an important part of your application. Provide letter writers with your curriculum vitae, draft personal statement and ERAS cover sheet. The majority of your letters should be from dermatology.

I Prepare your personal statement. Describe specific experiences and anecdotes to illustrate your abilities and qualities that make you a good candidate for their program. Share your narrative and include parts that are not found easily in the rest of your application. Consider highlighting distance traveled and any formative life experiences.

I A few residency programs have secondary essays. Work on secondary applications.

I Plan for most interviews to be scheduled from November through January.

I In February after your interviews, submit your “Rank Order List” on the NRMP website, indicating your residency choices in order of preference.



I Familiarize yourself with residency application services

ERAS Electronic Residency Application Service 

NRMP National Residency Matching Program

I Become familiar with the Residency Timeline residency-applicants/2024-eras-residency-timeline

I Become familiar with the SOCS Resources including the guide on How To Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program



I Attend Dermatology grand rounds and conferences during your M1-M2 years, and again when free during M4 year.

I Attend any career informational sessions held by dermatology each year (M1-M4).

I Keep a journal about your experiences to use later for essays and interviews (M1-M4).

I For any meeting with dermatology faculty or residents, prepare several direct questions to ask that can help you navigate the application process based on your current medical school year. Bring a printed copy of your curriculum vitae to meetings and share if appropriate.

I If you do not have a home dermatology program or cannot identify a local mentor, seek a mentor through the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Default.aspx and the Skin of Color Society (SOCS) mentorship-programs/.

Join the Skin of Color Society

Participate in activities to help the underserved or your community or reduce healthcare disparities. Many programs are putting more emphasis on a “culture of caring” in addition to grades and USMLE results.

I Become a leader in some organization at your medical school. Many dermatology programs are seeking to train future leaders in dermatology



I Prepare for your interviews by reviewing questions and doing mock interviews.

I Know every detail on your application. Prepare a 2-sentence and 2-paragraph answer on every activity listed.

I Review the dermatology residency program website, including the program and faculty, prior to a scheduled interview. Attend webinars that are hosted by your preferred programs.

I Conduct mock interviews with trusted mentors on web-based platforms (e.g., Zoom). Consider recording the session to evaluate your eye contact, engagement and nonverbal communication.

I A dermatology residency interview requires professional dress. The best choice is a comfortable suit and shoes without any flashy accessories. Be prepared for variable weather during the winter months if conducting in person interviews.

I If you’re flying, carry your interview clothes with you.

I It is important to talk to residents from each program during your interview experience.

I Remember you are being interviewed throughout the process, from interacting with staff when scheduling the interview to the very end of the interview day.

I Always have questions prepared to ask of each interview.

I Prepare examples that illustrate how you are a good team player and also examples of how you are a leader.

I Make sure to arrive on time for the interview day.

I Do not speak to anyone in an overly- familiar way. You must be professional with everyone.

I Do not drink more than one glass of alcohol if it is offered in a welcome dinner.

I Do not send post-interview thank you letters or letters of intent


Nkanyezi Ferguson, Roopal V. Kundu, Osamuede Osemwota, Amit Pandya, Julia Mhlaba Riley, Jennifer Rorex. Additional contributionsfrommembersofthe2018-2019SOCSDiversityinActionTaskForce.

Updates made by Severine Cao, Sofia Chaudhry, Roopal Kundu, Loren Krueger, and the members of the 2023-2024 SOCS Diversity in Action Task Force.



How to Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program 



As a first-year medical student, start by making an appointment with your career advisor or student affairs dean in the Office of Medical Education to get advice on how to gain early exposure to dermatology, and seek out opportunities to get to know the dermatology faculty and residents in your school. Join the Dermatology Interest Group (DIG) at your medical school or start a chapter if you do not have one. You can find more information about DIG at their national website ( Run for an executive position in DIG so that you can develop a close relationship with residents and faculty involved with DIG. Use this platform to learn about community-based activities sponsored by the interest group, such as the SPOTS program ( It is also helpful to identify medical students in the class above you who are planning to go into dermatology as well as students who recently matched into dermatology. These individuals can provide insight and helpful resources at your home institution. Moreover, attend Grand Rounds and local dermatology conferences when possible. This will help you to learn more about dermatology and become familiar with the faculty and residents. After some time of observation, you could identify a faculty member or resident to approach as a mentor. Inform your mentor(s) that you are interested in learning about research projects, case reports and volunteer experiences, and ask them to keep you in mind if they learn of any opportunities in these areas.

Keep in mind that Grand Rounds are generally open to medical students; however, at some institutions, smaller educational sessions (i.e. journal club, didactics) may also be open to medical students. It is best to ask before attending. Also, some institutions may have designated faculty career advisors who can provide you with advice and connect you with early opportunities. How to Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program Pathway to successfully match into dermatology MS1 MS2 MS3 MS4 DIGA Shadowing Volunteering DIGA Shadowing Volunteering Clinical Rotations LOR Scholarly activities Step 2 Application process Interview process Figure 1. Schematic representation for successfully matching into dermatology by year in medical school. Skin of Color Society | How to Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program 2 MS1 and MS2 years should be focused on exploring all areas of dermatology and getting to know the current faculty and residents. However, be mindful and do not be too aggressive. 

Remember faculty are busy clinicians. If you reach out to a faculty member and do not get an immediate response, be patient. Wait at least two weeks before sending a polite follow-up email. This is also a great time to shadow a dermatologist to make sure dermatology is right for you. While shadowing, ask yourself “Can I do this for 40 years of my life?” Remember you are committing to a lifelong career so go into dermatology for well-explored reasons. Exploration, self-awareness and reflection are important aspects of choosing a career in dermatology. Additionally, be aware that there are various subspecialties within dermatology (i.e. general, pediatric, procedural, dermatopathology) and various practice settings (private vs. academic). Taking the time to shadow early on will help you understand if this is truly a field of interest and perhaps help narrow down a specific focus. Determining a subspecialty in dermatology early on is not expected; however, if you do have a particular interest within dermatology, you should explore it, as you may be asked to explain this interest during the interview process. As dermatology is a competitive field, it is a priority to focus on mastering the curriculum content and maintaining good academic standing. Aim for your personal best in your core academic curriculum and clinical rotations.

Alongside your institutional curriculum, you should study USMLE Step 1 “the Boards” exam material. Start practice questions early to help identify key concepts, along with understanding Step 1 question and answer formats.

Finally, develop your extracurricular interests and seek volunteer or leadership opportunities. You can participate in activities to help the underserved or reduce healthcare disparities. Consider volunteering at a local free clinic and exploring whether these clinics offer dermatology services with which you may become involved. Many programs are putting emphasis on a “culture of caring” in addition to clinical grades and USMLE Step 2 scores. Sustained community service is highly regarded by residency programs. If you do not have a home dermatology program or cannot identify a local mentor, seek a mentor through the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) (, the Skin of Color Society ( socs), or the Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) mentorship program ( mentorship-award-program).



This is the time to conduct research. It has been well documented that research experiences and publications are strongly associated with successfully matching, so it is important to prioritize this endeavor. Select a research project that is feasible to complete within this timeframe or that can be continued during your MS2 and MS3 years. Aim for your manuscripts to be accepted by a journal by September of your MS4 year, which is when your application for dermatology residency is due. Joining an already established project is a good start with a reasonable projected stop date to have time to prepare adequately for Step exams. If you commit to a research project - own it. Take initiative. Be responsive to your mentors, answer emails promptly, collaborate with other research personnel effectively, and gather all materials such as clinical tables, figures, clinical images and histopathology images efficiently. Anticipate what your team will need, perform tasks in advance and inform your supervisors of your progress often. Make sure to follow through on all tasks to completion. For novice writers, consider referencing material on the basics of medical writing (e.g. The Clinicians Guide to Medical Writing by Robert B. Taylor, etc). Discuss and construct a broad outline of goals and timeframe for your research project that explicitly align to your research mentor’s expectations. 

Your research mentor should be able to provide you a letter of recommendation, so do an outstanding job. Remember, if the hypothesis is not proven, this is still worthy of a publication. Prior to starting the project, discuss the potential for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Provide your mentor with a list of upcoming dermatology conferences that you think may be good opportunities to present your work. Many medical schools provide funding for their students to present research. If you are unable to identify a research project within dermatology, obtaining a publication in an alternate field may also be regarded well. Be able to explain this research interest and, if applicable, provide a brief but illustrative story of your transition to interest in dermatology or how your project may relate to dermatology.

Keep in mind, there is no magic number for scholarly activity projects to match into dermatology, but most of the applicants had five or more abstracts, presentations, or publications at the time of the application. This is also the time to shadow dermatologists and plan for MS2 year with a continued focus of USMLE Step exams. Depending on your interests and resources, consider global medical electives (some medical schools have a global medicine track) as there are opportunities to participate in dermatology focused clinics abroad.




MS2 year should be seen as a continuation of your MS1 agenda. Furthermore, if you did not decide until your second year of medical school that you wanted to pursue a career in dermatology, it is not too late. You can still spend time looking for mentorship opportunities and research projects in MS2, MS3, and MS4 years. During your MS2 year, it is important to dedicate time to be well-prepared for the USMLE Step 1 exam. This will help you solidify your pre-clinical medical school curriculum. Note that, previously, performing well on Step 1 was strongly associated with an increased chance of matching. Now that Step 1 is pass/fail, there may be more emphasis on Step 2 performance.

However, most dermatology residency programs now are committed to a holistic application review process, with exam scores only a part of the overall evaluation. We also encourage future UIM applicants to consider applying to the AAD Diversity Mentorship program. This program is primarily aimed at 3rd and 4th year medical students who desire additional mentorship. Mentors are encouraged to help with publications, letters of recommendation and guidance through the application process. Consider taking advantage of this program to use this time for your away rotations. Alternatively, this program can be completed in the summer of your MS1 and MS2 year to coordinate research and obtain early exposure to dermatology; however, the majority of recipients complete this program during their MS3 and MS4 years.



MS3 clinical rotations are critical. Residency program directors use recommendations and evaluations from this clinical year to ascertain your clinical abilities and ability to function well as a resident. Key components to clinical evaluations are working well with the team and taking ownership of your patients. Prepare for transition to clinical rotations by discussing expectations with upperclassmen and fellow classmates who completed rotations. Obtain feedback from your clinical preceptors early in the rotation and make meaningful strides to meet or exceed expectations. When planning for your rotations, consider starting with internal medicine and surgery to have a foundation upon which to build when working with the dermatology team on consults and in clinic. Plan to complete your first dermatology rotation at your home institution once you have had the bulk of your core clinical rotations. After completing a rotation at your home institution, seek feedback on your clinical performance to use for any potential away rotations.

In January and February of your MS3 year, you should begin to consider planning for away rotation applications through the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities (VSLO™) program. Many dermatology applicants complete 1-2 away rotations in the beginning of their fourth year of medical school (i.e. summer or fall of the year you are applying), though they are not required. You may apply for more than one rotation per time slot but be sure to withdraw additional applications once you have been assigned. Visit your local Office of Diversity and Inclusion to identify medical schools that offer specific rotations for UIM students. These programs may include supplemental funding.

Though completing an away rotation is not necessary, it may improve the likelihood that you match to the program at which you rotate. It is extremely important that you take this opportunity to get to know faculty. Schedule a meeting early on with the program director and/or chair to discuss your interest and possible research opportunities. Meetings are often scheduled by the department administrative assistant. This appointment is to introduce yourself and convey your interest in the field and the program. Attend the meeting with a printed version of your up- to-date curriculum vitae. Please keep in mind that some programs have many rotators and program directors and chairs are not able to meet individually with every student. During away rotations, dress professionally and make sure not to do things that may be portrayed negatively - do not spend time on your cell phone/ watch during clinic hours or conferences, do not perform procedures or interview patients without prior permission, do not complain or convey an impression of laziness or boredom. 

Also, bring a clean white coat, arrive early every day to lecture and clinical responsibilities, and be able to present patients without reading verbatim from a cell phone or typed note. Be prepared to give a presentation on a topic of interest during grand rounds. If this is not required, you may offer to do so. In preparation for your home and away rotations, you can review the Basic Dermatology Curriculum on the AAD website (

Be comfortable using dermatological terms to describe the cutaneous exam, along with knowing the first line treatments for the most seen dermatological disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, warts and skin cancer. Read about patients and dermatology cases you come across during your rotation. At the completion of your MS3 year, you should have scheduled your rotation at your home institution as well as your away rotation(s), if applicable. You should also have begun to think about 2 or 3 dermatology faculty members to ask for a strong recommendation letter. At least two letters from dermatologists is encouraged. As a third/fourth, many will obtain a letter from a faculty member during their internal medicine rotation, though a letter from a faculty member who can speak strongly about you as a person and a student is best. Complete all outstanding publications or prepare them for submission. Start your personal statement and allow time for several revisions. Your personal statement should describe specific experiences and anecdotes to illustrate your abilities and qualities that make you a good candidate. Skin of Color Society | How to Obtain a Position in a Dermatology Residency Program 4 Do not list accomplishments. Let your letters of recommendation toot your horn, not your personal statement. This is an opportunity to highlight your narrative and strengths that are not found easily in the rest of your application. The personal statement is an important component of the holistic review process because it allows the selection committee to better understand how your experiences and attributes will help you contribute to learning, patient care, and teaching. If possible, have your dermatology mentor and local dermatology resident review your personal statement. If you are genuinely interested in a specific program you can personalize your personal statement to that specific school detailing why you are interested in their program however program signaling through ERAS is the preferred way to demonstrate specific interest in a program. Some programs will have applicants fill out a secondary application where you may also get a chance to highlight why you want to attend that specific program. Be honest and submit the secondary application in a timely manner.

Towards the middle to end of MS3, schedule the USMLE Step 2 CK and CS exams. Given that Step 1 is pass/fail, it may be helpful to complete your Step 2 CK exam prior to applying. Many, but not all, residency programs require or prefer completion of USMLE Step 2 prior to submission of rank lists in February of your MS4 year.



Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) opens in July of your MS4 year. Reference the American Medical Association database on each residency program through Fellowship and Residency Interactive Electronic Database Access (FRIEDA) ( prior to applying.

Programs start accepting applications in September with interviews typically taking place from November to early February. Upon completion of ERAS, some programs may require a supplemental application. This information is provided on ERAS or on the institutional website. Be sure to check the program website directly if it is not listed on ERAS. It is encouraged to submit your completed application early, and no later than the final day before residency programs may begin reviewing submissions on ERAS (specific dates may vary and be sure to check the ERAS website). The current deadline for the MSPE submitted by your school is October 1st.

Submitting applications to every program can be cost prohibitive. An application signaling system was started in 2023 that gives applicants 3 gold signals and 25 silver signals. These 28 signals are for the applicant to indicate which programs they are particularly interested in. There is a lower likelihood that applicants will receive interview invites at nonsignaled programs. For many dermatology applicants, applying to only the 28 signaled programs will likely be sufficient.

Applicants may consider applying to more programs (up to 40-50 programs), but applying widely (>60 programs) will likely not be of additional benefit. Please note that it is important to signal your home program and any away rotation programs if you are interested in them- they will not assume your interest. Apply some level of scrutiny when selecting programs, taking into consideration location, reputation and research opportunities. Be aware that some dermatology residencies have programs with special tracks, such as research or Internal Medicine/Dermatology joint residencies, which may require unique application considerations.

The cost of application fees and interview travel must be considered. If possible, begin saving for this early on in medical school to avoid taking on additional loans. Currently the interviews are being conducted virtually to help decrease the financial cost to applicants.

Prior to submitting your application, have your mentors review your application and personal statement. Ask for letters of recommendation prior to August 15. Who writes your letter and how well they know you is an important part of your application. Provide letter writers with your curriculum vitae, personal statement draft, and ERAS cover sheet. Ensure that several of your letter writers are academic clinicians. It is imperative to have a letter from dermatology faculty who knows you well. It may be helpful to have a letter from someone who is well known nationally, but only if they also know you well.

Most dermatology programs are advanced (or categorical) programs, meaning you are expected to begin your training after having completed a PGY-1 intern year. Generally, acceptable internships are in internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine or a transitional year. The majority of dermatology residents complete an internship in internal medicine or a transitional year. While you may be focused on perfecting your dermatology application, keep in mind that your application for an internship will also require a personal statement, letters of recommendation and a careful consideration of where to apply. Often, the personal statement and letters of recommendation can be slightly adjusted such that they are eligible for both, however it is important to obtain individualized guidance on ensuring that your internship application is well-prepared.

Additionally, MS4 is generally the time when medical students are selected for membership into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. While not every school has a chapter, membership in this society is a factor that residency program directors may consider in interviewing and ranking candidates as it demonstrates a commitment to scholarship, leadership, professionalism, and service. While it is just one characteristic considered in a holistic review, membership to this honor society is a positive factor.



Complete mock interviews with at least one mentor priorto the actual interview. Look up commonly asked questions during residency interviews and practice them with your mock interviewer. Make sure you have a good answer for each question and ask your interviewer for guidance and constructive criticism on your demeanor, energy level, eye contact, body language, vocabulary, and content of your answers.

Know the program! Access the department website to get to know faculty and residents. Attend webinars that may be hosted by your programs of interest. Perform a literature search and familiarize yourself with faculty publications. Contact any upperclassmen who have interviewed at the program to get insight on the interview process. You can also contact the interview coordinators or department administrator(s) to get an idea of the activities during interview day. Of note, the interview coordinator is the person you will be interfacing with prior to and after your interview day. They are an important member of the program, and it is in your best interest to treat this person with the utmost consideration and respect.

In addition to knowing your interviewers be sure to know your application thoroughly. You can and likely will be asked questions on any aspect of your application.

Practice a list of commonly asked questions:

• Tell me about yourself.
• Why dermatology? Why our program? What are your goals?
• What are your strengths?
• What are your weaknesses?
• Tell me about your research?
• Tell me about an interesting patient?
• Who are your role models and why?
• What are your interests outside of dermatology?
• What questions do you have?
• What could you offer this program?

The publication How to Obtain an Orthopedic Residency ( orthopaedic-residency.pdf ) also has a list of questions to consider asking while on the interview trail. When answering the above questions try not to sound rehearsed or portray yourself as overconfident.

The Successful Match: Rules to Succeed in Residency Match authored by Drs. Rajani Katta and Samir P Desai is another resource. These authors also have a podcast as well as a section for dermatology applicants. Visit Currently interviews are being conducted virtually.
Make sure you check your internet connection and computer camera in advance. Do not have anything distracting in thebackground, and ensure there is good lighting.

If interviews return to being in person in the future, plan to be 10 minutes early on your interview day. If possible, find the location prior to the interview. Again, pay attention to your appearance. A dermatology residency interview requires professional dress. Dress professionally. If you must question yourse lf then it is probably not a good choice to wear. The best choice is a comfortable suit and shoes without any flashy accessories. Be prepared for variable weather during the winter months. If you are flying, carry your interview clothes with you in case your checked baggage does not arrive in time.

With interviews being done virtually, many programs host a virtual meet-and greet with their residents prior to the interview day. Although this may be a more informal atmosphere, make sure you approach it as part of the interview process. Be an active participant in the session.

It is important to talk to residents from each program during your interview experience to get a better idea of the program. Remember, you are being interviewed throughout the process,from interacting with staff when scheduling the interview to speaking with residents at the very end of the interview day.

Always have questions prepared to ask of each interviewer. Do not speak to anyone in an overly-familiar way. You must be professional with everyone. If interviews return to in person, do not drink more than one glass of alcohol if it is offered in a welcome dinner.

Finally, be kind to your fellow applicants as these will be your potential classmates and peer colleagues in the future.


It is now advised that applicants do not write thank you letters or letters of intent to programs after the interview.

Begin the ranking process immediately after your interview.Make a list of pros and cons that will help you keep track of programs once you have completed your interviews.

Given the competitive nature of the dermatology match, think about what you would do if you were not to match. Always have a plan B. Many go on to complete their preliminary or transitional year and then re-apply.

A research year can also be taken to build on scholarly activity and strengthen an application before re-applying. Others may consider dual-applying in another specialty (this would need to be planned in advance of ERAS submissions, with preparation of two applications). Consider what plan is right for you. As a physician, there are many fascinating careers available to you. Everyone doesn’t match in dermatology, but all students have the opportunity for a fulfilling career in medicine.

Special Circumstances

For those who have come to a decision to pursue dermatology residency later in their medical school career or identified a gap in their scholarly exploration, you may consider a gap/ glide year. This should be considered a time for growth and exploration of the field of dermatology both in its clinical arenas (diseases and treatment paradigms) along with the areas of scholarly discovery currently in the field. This should be balanced with the extended time of delaying graduation, along with additional financial considerations.



A lack of diversity exists in the field of dermatology due to many factors. However, we hope understanding and knowing the application process in detail might provide useful information for potential URM candidates who might consider dermatology as a specialty (Figure 1). There are growing opportunities to develop and explore interest in the specialty of dermatology through mentorship, publications, podcasts, and online resources. A diverse workforce has been shown to provide better care and reduce healthcare disparities; therefore, diversity should be a goal for the field of dermatology as well. Dermatology is a fascinating field of medicine and can be very fulfilling and rewarding in many ways. If you ultimately decide you want to pursue dermatology, we hope this guide will help you successfully match into a dermatology residency program.


Nkanyezi Ferguson, Roopal V. Kundu, Osamuede Osemwota, Amit Pandya, Julia Mhlaba Riley, Jennifer Rorex. Additional contributionsfrommembersofthe2018-2019SOCSDiversityinActionTaskForce.

Updates made by Severine Cao, Sofia Chaudhry, Roopal Kundu, Loren Krueger, and the members of the 2023-2024 SOCS Diversity in Action Task Force.

  1. AlikhanA,SivamaniRK,MutizwaMM,FelstenLM.Adviceforfourthyearmedicalstudentsbeginningthedermatologyresidencyapplication process:Perspectivesfrominternswhomatched.Dermatology Online Journal. 2009;15(10). Accessed February 20, 2018.
  2. StratmanEJ,NessRM.FactorsAssociatedWithSuccessfulMatchingtoDermatologyResidencyProgramsbyReapplicantsandOther ApplicantsWhoPreviouslyGraduatedFromMedicalSchool.Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(2):196-202. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.303
  3. MainResidencyMatchDataandReports.The Match, National Resident Matching Program. . Accessed February 20, 2018.
  4. Wang JV, KellerM.Pressuretopublishforresidencyapplicantsindermatology.Dermatology Online Journal. 2016;22(3). Accessed February 20, 2018.
Online Resources

AAD Diversity Mentorship Program





Minorities in Medicine to get information on groups under represented in medicine.

ERAS - Electronic Residency Application Service



A Model in Dermatology for Long-Distance Mentoring

Caroline C. Kim, MD, Ellen J. Kim, MD, Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD, Victor Marks, MD, Mary Maloney, MD, and Ilona J. Frieden, MD

Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts; Philadelphia and Danville, Pennsylvania; Tucson, Arizona; and San Francisco, California Use this general guide to help prepare for applying to dermatology residency.



Mentorship is an important element for a successful career in any field. Physicians who have had mentors report having more career satisfaction and believe that the relationship has positively affected their job experience and promotions in their field.1-4 However, multiple studies have documented that a significant number of young physicians report not having a mentor through training and their early stage of career.4-6 Within the field of dermatology, mentorship has recently been emphasized in many training programs through assigned mentors with a high degree of resident satisfaction.3,7,8 Once past residency, however, early career physicians may have fewer opportunities for mentorship, while they also may be expected to become mentors themselves. In 2005, the American Academy of Dermatology established an Academic Dermatology Leadership Program (ADLP).

This program has been well received, with consistently positive formal and informal evaluations. Moreover, participants report very high retention rates in full-time academic practice ([75%).* 

An important component of the ADLP is the matching of participants, who are early in their career as academic dermatologists, with a mentor— often located at a distant geographic locations—as a way to help them succeed in the field and advance as leaders. In most cases, mentorship is conducted primarily via phone calls with only a few in-person meetings. While this approach can pose unique challenges, it has great potential, particularly in a field like dermatology. Most academic departments in dermatology are small, and the opportunity to be matched with a mentor from a different institution with a different perspective can be especially valuable.

This article aims to outline strategies shared from informal discussions among the authors, all of whom have participated in the ADLP, to optimize such ‘‘long-distance’’, extramural mentoring relationships, and to describe some of the lessons learned from these relationships. It is not meant to be a comprehensive review of mentoring or mentoring strategies, but rather to provide ideas for ‘‘jump-starting’’ this unique type of relationship. Many of the principles described herein may be applied not only to academic dermatologists, but also to those in communitybased practices, at other career stages, as well as in other disciplines.



Both mentor and mentee must be able to make a time commitment to the relationship, including being able to set aside 30 to 45 minutes at least monthly for a telephone ‘‘meeting’’. Sticking to agreed-upon times without excessive rescheduling is necessary; conversely, failing to make or keep these appointments signals a lack of interest or commitment and can doom the relationship.

Both the mentee’s and mentor’s time is valuable. Preparing to get the most out of each mentoring session can help enhance the mentorship relationship. It is extremely helpful prior to each session to have specific questions or topic areas to discuss, set at the end of the previous meeting or by e-mail, which can be meaningfully be discussed (see suggestions below). This allows time to reflect and prepare for the discussion.



Many dermatology departments are small and picking a mentor who has no inherent conflict of interest (eg, a division chief mentoring a member of their division) may not be possible. A benefit of the mentoring offered through the ADLP and similar programs is in getting outside perspective from a mentor with fresh eyes, objectivity, and without potential conflicts of interest.

Selecting a mentor is a key first step. A mentee stands to gain a tremendous amount from the mentor: career and/or personal guidance, long-term perspective, and knowledge on how to approach a difficult problem. The mentor is generously offering time to the mentee and, at the same time, the relationship can give significant satisfaction to the mentor in helping another person grow personally and professionally, while also expanding his or her own learning experience. Some important points to consider when choosing a mentor include the following:

  • Do ask more senior or other trusted colleagues for suggestions about who might be a good fit in terms of interest or career path. Ask their advice regarding who—in their opinion—has a proven commitment to mentoring, seems like a good match, has good communication skills, and enjoys making connections with junior faculty. 

Instead of simply name-recognition, consider whether a mentor will have the time, interest, a track record in helping more junior dermatologists to rise in the ranks.

  • Choosing a mentor who has a slightly different career interest may still have the potential for great success. For example, an academic dermatologist with a subspecialized interest in contact dermatitis may effectively mentor a person interested in developing their own niche in wound healing. As a corollary it actually may be helpful not to choose a mentor with similar subspecialty interests, to avoid ‘‘talking shop’’ which might stifle other types of discussions such as those listed below.
  • The mentee should find an individual with whom they feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns. Shared values and similar life situations can be very important in developing a close mentoring association.
  • Though the ADLP program is aimed at matching young academic dermatologists with other dermatologists or dermatology specialists (eg, dermatopathologists, surgical dermatologists, etc.), it is possible to find valuable mentorship by looking beyond the field of dermatology. Specialists in other fields such as hematology/ oncology, infectious disease, pathology or rheumatology, or industry may be able to offer sound career advice as well.


Once a mentor is identified and both parties have agreed to devote the requisite time and energy needed to sustain a mentoring relationship, important ‘‘next steps’’ can help ensure that the relationship gets off to a good start and is sustainable. A specific time for initial conversation ideally in person or, if not feasible, via telephone should be arranged. Ground-rules for how often, how long, and best times for further conversations should be established. Both mentee and mentor should be honest and straightforward about availability and desired duration of the mentorship. As the mentor/mentee relationship begins, some suggestions for the initial discussion include:
  • Establish goals for the relationship: timeframe of relationship (ie, 6 months, 1 year), what overall issues/questions to be discussed.
  • At least monthly telephone calls, of approximately 30 to 45 minutes, should allow adequate time to cover one or two questions/issues and follow-up (see below for specific ideas for such discussions).
  • Schedule or confirm the next teleconference at the end of the each phone conversation.
  • Whenever possible, schedule face-to-face meetings at conferences, or other in-person meetings, at least two times over the course of the year of the mentoring relationship. The AAD annual or summer meetings may be good opportunities to meet.
  • Keep what is discussed confidential. Private professional and personal information may be shared with one another. Trust is extremely important in the mentor/mentee relationship and any break in this trust can spoil the relationship. At the same time, be open and agree on any issues that may be off-limits for either the mentee or mentor.


The specifics of mentoring will vary from pair to pair. Ideally, discussions are open-ended rather than scripted, with the goal of helping mentees navigate difficult issues or dilemmas. The best type of mentoring is not just ‘‘giving’’ answers to questions or telling the mentee what to do, but rather listening carefully to the mentee’s issues, asking questions and bringing clarity to situations to help the mentee discover for himself or herself the right solutions.

Some may find that shared readings may be helpful to discuss. Examples of common issues that can be explored in the mentorship relationship are presented in Table I.

Table I. Mentoring questions to explore

  • Discussion of career path, promotion strategies, negotiating a new job or role
  • Developing a niche
  • Time management
  • Work/life balance: tips and strategies when feeling extended
  • Managing travel schedules and dual career families
  • Keeping one’s clinical practice manageable and allowing enough time for scholarly productivity d When it is important to say ‘‘yes’’ and when to say ‘‘no’’
  • How to get involved in committees, pros and cons
  • How to prepare for teaching/lectures/talks d Issues regarding ancillary support staff
  • Tips for staying up-to-date in one’s field
  • Advice for guiding and managing medical students interested in dermatology
  • Learning how to effectively mentor others, particularly early in one’s career
  • Issues that could be ‘‘fatal flaws’’ in a career


Unlike more open-ended mentoring relationships, the ADLP program is a 1-year program with a defined end. If the mentoring relationship has been successful, it may continue as an informal relationship beyond the prescribed 1-year time frame even evolving into collaboration or friendship, but this should not be an automatic assumption by either party. Occasionally, a mentor/mentee relationship may not be successful. Common reasons for a less than satisfactory relationship include lack of communication about goals, lack of time or desire to commit to the relationship, or lack of chemistry. This should not discourage either the mentee or the mentor from trying to establish a different, better relationship at a future time, but it is important to reflect on why the relationship did not succeed in order to avoid making the same mistakes in future relationships. The option of a ‘‘no-fault’’ termination if the relationship is not working should be available to avoid hard feelings. 


Mentoring is now widely recognized as an important aspect of success. We have presented a model of mentorship that can provide a valuable and rewarding experience for both mentee and mentor even for those with already overloaded schedules. The ADLP is not alone in creating such mentor/mentee relationships in dermatology. Other mentorship programs include those organized by the Women’s Dermatological Society, the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. The Society of Investigative Dermatology and the AAD Mentorship Workgroup are establishing mentorship databases. The AAD Mentorship Workgroup is working to create training modules for mentors to be more effective in their efforts. With commitment and enthusiasm, external mentorship relationships can broaden one’s perspectives, bring light to difficult issues, facilitate networking, and in the best of circumstances, lead to a longer term meaningful mentoring relationship or even a friendship.
From the Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Bostona ; Department of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Arizona, Arizona Cancer Center and Section of Dermatology, Tucson; Department of Dermatology, Geisinger Health System, Danville; Division of Dermatology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester; and Departments of Dermatology and Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco.
Funding sources: None.
Conflicts of interest: None declared. 

*Personal communication, Linda Ayers, American Academy of Dermatology, May 2012. Reprint requests: Caroline C. Kim, MD, Department of Dermatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave, Shapiro 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02215. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published online December 23, 2012. J Am Acad Dermatol 2013;68:860-2. 0190-9622/$36.00

2012 by the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.



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Resourceful Dermatology Links and Sources

The following links are provided as a courtesy only and do not imply, directly or indirectly, the endorsement, sponsorship, or approval by SOCS of the linked site, the organization or individual operating the site, or any product, service, individual, or organization referenced in the site. The content of any linked site does not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of SOCS. SOCS assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of content contained in any linked site or for the compliance with applicable laws of such linked sites.


The American Academy of Dermatology

Young Minds Inspired

The International League of Dermatological Societies

ILDS Newsletters

Global Vitiligo Foundation