Current Editors: Keith Wagner and Michael Ryan

Past Editors: Tim Allen, Kristyna Gleghorn, Dung Mac, Alex Acosta, William Tausend, Sheila Jalalat, Rebecca Philips, Chelsea Altinger, Lindsey Hunter, Alison Wiesenthal, Leslie Scroggins, Mara Dacso, Ashley Group, Fadi Constantine, Emily Fridlington, Joslyn Witherspoon, Tasneem Poonawalla.

Monday, September 29, 2014

First DIG Meeting Recap: Q&A with Dr. Wagner, Residency Program Director

On September 22, 2014, the DIG had its first meeting of the year with Dr. Richard Wagner.  Dr. Wagner is UTMB’s Dermatology residency program director.  For those who could not make the meeting, here is a recap of what was discussed.

·      There are four positions available each year at the UTMB residency program.

·      Dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties.  Having research experience and publications are necessary to be a competitive applicant.

o   Research and publications in Dermatology are important

o   It doesn’t matter if you do a research project, case report, poster project, review article, etc.  The number of total research/publications is most important with the average being 5-6 publications.

o   Case reports are the fastest and easiest to publish.

·      If you have average Step scores, you have to excel in other ways. Past students have had a really extensive publication history.  You may choose to pursue a Dermatology research fellowship after graduating medical school and before applying to residency to make your application more competitive.

·      Fellowship are listed under DIGA website and are available to people who are in their PGY-1 year but haven’t matched into an advanced program (PGY-2 year).

·      AOA status is preferred and is an easy way to screen applicants since it reflects first, second and third year grades as well as showing that you are in the top 15% of your class.

o   It doesn’t matter if you are junior or senior AOA, but junior is impressive.

·      There is limited funding for residency programs.  The number of years of post-graduate funding you can receive is determined by the type of residency program that you match into initially.  For example, if you match into Surgery, you have 5 years of funding.  If you match into Internal Medicine, you have 3 years of funding.  If you match into Dermatology, you have 4 years of funding.  This becomes important if you don’t initially match into Dermatology, and reapply after your PGY-1 year.  If you matched into an IM preliminary year then apply to Derm the following year, you only have 2 additional years of funding as opposed to the 3 necessary.  Since programs may not be compensated for your PGY-4 year in Dermatology, and would have to compensate you themselves, they may be less likely to interview you.   It is important to weigh this new facet of residency training when applying.

·      There are 118 Dermatology programs nationally.

·      Interviews for residency are held mostly in January, but you have to go to interviews for your PGY-1 year in the fall.

·      UTMB is unique in that there is a democratic system for selecting applicants.  Residents who interviewed the applicants have a vote on that applicant. In other schools, residents may interview, but they usually don’t have a say on the voting process.

·      The best letters of recommendation are from people who worked with you personally for a period of time or someone you have done research with.  Three or four letters, usually from Dermatology/dermatologists are best because the people reading these letters may know the letter writers personally, which makes the letter more high impact..

·      Do away rotations. They will know your work and compatibility with the program and are more likely to interview you and consider you for a position.

·      Students are encouraged to come to the Dermatology clinics at UTMB, just check with the faculty first.

·      Dermatology boards are notoriously difficult with up to 10% of residents failing some years. This is why programs look for applicants who have high Step 1 scores and are AOA since they will be more likely to pass the board. There are not oral boards for Dermatology.

Thank you to Dr. Wagner for coming to answer our questions!