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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dermatology Residency—Is it Worth Waiting and Hoping For?

As dermatology residencies become more and more competitive, very qualified applicants fail to match on their first attempt as MS4s. A few years ago it was very uncommon for MS4 applicants with Step 1 scores of 250 and higher as well as AOA membership and dermatology research not to match. No so today.

Some dermatology applicants are willing to keep applying for a dermatology residency despite initial or repeated rejections from residency programs. This can be a very difficult path for a number of reasons. It is hard to substantially improve application credentials during the PGY1 year due to clinical responsibilities. Often the preliminary or categorical PGY1 year in primary care specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics will count against the full 3 years of dermatology residency funding, preventing some dermatology programs from even considering applicants in this situation.  Family and social pressure to finish residency and “get a job” is a factor for some, especially with student loans looming. Dermatology clinical fellowships do not often guarantee admission to a dermatology residency program, and dermatology applicants may need to spend years doing this type of clinical research at different institutions until they are able to find a program that will accept them into residency.

It is becoming more common for dermatology applicants to also interview for a “backup” residency in another specialty in case they fail to match in the first cycle. Two of the ROAD specialties (“road to happiness”), radiology and anesthesiology,  remain a relatively easy match for most dermatology applicants due to more available positions. Others, anticipating the potentially delayed path into dermatology, try to match into a surgery residency where dermatology funding is not an issue as long as the resident does not stay past the PGY2 year of surgical training. It is very important for those with a career interest in dermatology to consider these issue prior to applying to dermatology residency, so they will be better able to plan their professional future if they do not match into dermatology as a MS4.