Current Editors: Renat Ahatov, Michael Phan, and Andrea Francis

(Please email editors if there is blog-worthy news that you would like to see shared)

Past Editors: Elise Weisert, Michael Ryan, Keith Wagner, 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, December 21, 2009

Along the Interview Trail

Calling all seniors!

Dr. Wagner has suggested we can help next year's students with their interviews and offer invaluable advice from "home." Let us know what questions you are getting on your dermatology interviews. We will compile a list to prepare our medical students for the upcoming application season.

Where are you interviewing? Help guide our future students about places to consider for their away rotations.

Thank you for your help with this project and best of luck to you all on your own interviews. Please e-mail responses to Alison Wiesenthal at acwiesen@utmb.edu.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DIGA Leadership Opportunities for 2010-2011

Applications for next year's Dermatology Interest Group Association (DIGA) officers are now being accepted. The application process will be open until midnight on Jan. 15th, 2010. The application and instructions can be found on our website under "Public Announcement" at: http://www.derminterest.org/

Available DIGA Positions:


-Vice President




-Community Service Director

DIGA leadership is a wonderful opportunity. Serving as National Community Service Director this year, I interacted with DIG groups across the country helping promote Stay Shady! and other community service projects.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Alison Wiesenthal
DIGA National Community Service Director
UTMB DIG Co-President

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Automatic Interviews Extended to Visiting Dermatology Elective Students

The UTMB Dermatology Residency Program has historically extended informal interviews to all UTMB MS4 medical students applying and to other applicants on campus, typically those in different residency or fellowship programs. Starting Period 6, 2009 (ended Friday, 12/11) these interview offers are also being given to visiting dermatology elective students from other institutions. Similar to the interviews given to UTMB MS4s, these dermatology interviews are informal and must be completed during the 4 week rotation. If possible, visiting students should schedule times to meet all of the UTMB dermatology residents and faculty, especially if they have not interacted with them in any of the UTMB clinics, lectures or conferences. As is the case for UTMB MS4s, dermatology residents and faculty may waive the informal interview request because of familiarity with the applicant during the rotation. These informal interviews are not the same as the formal February interviews that UTMB offers students from outside institutions (UTMB MS4s are excluded from these formal interviews as well). In the future, visiting students, similar to UTMB MS4s, may not receive any email interview communications through ERAS about their pending dermatology applications to UTMB, although UTMB may invite some of these visiting students back to campus for a formal interview, especially if the rotation was in the early part of the academic year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

UTMB Dermatology Resident Melanoma Research Published In Leading Journal

Second year dermatology resident, Dr. Matt Petitt, published his original research entitled, "Lymphatic invasion detected by D2-40/S-100 dual immunohistochemistry does not predict sentinel lymph node status in melanoma" in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (pages 819-828). His coauthors on this study were Drs. Ashley Allison, Sharon Raimer and Brent Kelly from the UTMB Department of Dermatology, along with Tally Shimoni (UTMB School of Medicine) and Tatsuo Uchida (Office of Biostatistics). This project satisfied Dr. Petitt's UTMB dermatology residency program graduation requirement. It was a great experience hearing Dr. Petitt explain his study at the weekly Friday dermatology journal club meeting today, with Drs. Brent Kelly and Sharon Raimer in attendance, along will other dermatology faculty, residents and medical students.

New Enrollment Record for UTMB Dermatology Film Courses

Period 13 begins on Monday, December 14th and has set a new record enrollment for dermatology: Twenty-seven medical students are now enrolled in this popular UTMB class that offers a teleconferencing option to students who are not currently in Galveston (15 students in DERU-4051 and 12 students in DERU-4007, the elective version that is open for MS3 and visiting medical students).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Planning Ahead for 2010 Dermatology Applications

Matching into a dermatology residency program continues to be very difficult because there are so few positions available nationally and lots of applicants. What are the trends in dermatology applications, and what can be done to improve an application for next year?

Step 1: The average dermatology applicant score for those who match into a dermatology residency is above 240. Some residency programs use the Step 1 score as a cutoff to decrease the overwhelming number of applications to review.

Step 2: Currently, most dermatology programs do not expect to have Step 2 scores, but some do. Step 2 scores are usually higher than Step 1. Applicants should consider taking Step 2 in June, at the end of their core MS3 rotations in order to be considered at every program.

AOA: Half of dermatology matches are AOA members. It is a big advantage to be in AOA for dermatology applicants, because some programs use AOA membership as a screen for applicants.

School: Yes, it matters. Some schools never interview applicants from XYZ. Some programs have regional or state preferences. Students from medical schools without dermatology residency programs seem to be a a disadvantage in this process.

Multiple applicants from the same school: Yes, programs will compare students from the same school during the application process. Higher Step 1 scores and AOA membership are advantages, as are a PhD. An outstanding away rotation may also result in an invitation to interview.

Advanced degrees: A PhD will help at a handful of programs that do bench research, but there are not many of these (although they tend to be the larger programs). Other graduate higher education (MS, MA, MBA, MPH, JD, etc may also interest some programs especially if there are academic publications).

Away rotations: Statistics seem to indicate this can help some applicants. However, at many programs, an interview is not automatic. Some away rotations require an application far in advance of the elective date, so planning is required. Applicants who are not AOA or have below average Step 1 scores for dermatology applicants have the opportunity to make a positive impression during aways, especially at smaller programs with fewer visiting students.

Research: Almost every applicant has dermatology research now. High quality research takes time (IRB, data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation, etc), and usually cannot be completed in the first half of the MS4 academic year (June to November 1), when most applications are due. The earlier substantive research is started, the better is the chance it will be completed by the application deadline. UTMB sponsors the Dermatology Honors Research Program, in which the participating medical student acts as the PI on an original investigation. It can be started as early as the MS1 year and may be completed before the ERAS application is due. Number of publications count, because it is rare for MS4 applicants to have more than 5 peer-reviewed publications (but those in their 2nd year of post-internship dermatology fellowship frequently do).

Awards: Always adds to an application. UTMB students sponsors many campus activities that may lead to student award, such as the MSSRP (Medical Student Summer Research Program between the first and second year of medical school) and the annual Forum on Aging. In addition, UTMB sponsors The National Student Research Forum each year, that awards for medical students and residents for dermatology in the categories of poster and presentation. Getting a dermatology award as an MS3 or earlier will get on your ERAS application. Included in this is the American Academy of Dermatology Diversity Medical Student Mentorship Awardees (about a quarter of them have been successful in obtaining dermatology residencies, including some UTMB students).

Letters: The sooner dermatology faculty at your school know about your dermatology career interest and become involved in your academic program, the better. Programs will look for letters from the dermatology chair at your school and your research project faculty. Your research mentor's letter is very important because this faculty has great insight into student academic potential and productivity, areas of interest to many dermatology residency programs.

Essay: Not too short or longer than one page. Try to make it interesting. Avoid spelling or grammatical errors. If you have any ties to the geographical location of the program, this is a chance to make it known.

Delayed graduation to do research: This can improve application quality if the additional research year has been productive with national presentations, publications and a strong faculty letter of recommendation.

Previous residency: Limits residency positions available for a dermatology match, but can be very desirable to programs if special clinical skills are involved (dermatopathology, plastic surgery, ent, internal medicine, pediatrics, rheumatology, allergy, infectious diseases, psychiatry) and a strong academic publication record was established during the prior residency. It also helps if there if a dermatology job is waiting for you at your previous residency institution or if a sponsoring institution is willing to provide funding.

Switching residencies: Often viewed skeptically by programs, because they may be next. Essay should have a very good reason for not completing the residency that was started, and letters from former chair and program director should support new professional goal.

Internship (PGY1): For those not matching into dermatology while a MS4, the quality of the PGY1 year will be considered by many programs. A strong preliminary internal medicine internship at a University Hospital with strong support letters from the Chair and Program Director should help generate interest.

Clinical Dermatology Fellowships: The best ones for applicants have a strong track record of taking their former fellows for dermatology residency positions after one or more years of fellowship work with them or those that have a strong historical record of fellow placements into dermatology residency programs. These fellowships usually involve clinical trails. During the fellowship, pre-dermatology fellows need to be presenting and publishing lots of research. Sometimes it is necessary to do several fellowships at different institutions before finally matching into dermatology.

ERAS: Saves lots of time but difficult to update programs about additional accomplishments after the ERAS application is submitted. Since many programs have a November 1 deadline and many try to offer interviews by late November or early December, non-ERAS supplemental information sent by applicants after the program deadline may have little impact on the decision process. However, once invited for an interview, supplementation of your application is generally considered.

Interview: Be yourself. Your application is under serious consideration. Don't get flustered. Don't be late. This is the one chance to make a great first impression. Read about the program and faculty research ahead of the interview. Try to have fun learning about a new program and a new city. Make the pre-interview dinner if there is one, because face time counts in this process.

Good luck with the application process!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

American Academy of Dermatology Diversity Medical Student Mentorship

This is a very good program that has benefited past UTMB medical students. The application deadline is January 31, 2010. For additional information, please see http://www.aad.org/education/students/students.html

Monday, December 07, 2009

UTMB Dermatology Opens Clinic in Bay Colony Town Center, League City, Texas

The new UTMB dermatology clinic at Bay Colony (2785 Gulf Freeway South, Suite 165, the same shopping center as HEB and 24 Hour Fitness in League City, just west of I-45) has just opened. This clinic is conveniently located to the quickly growing cities of League City, Dickinson, Friendswood, Santa Fe, Texas City and communities in the Clear Lake area. Patients interested in making an appointment there should call 281-534-3376 . The clinic will be staffed by UTMB dermatology faculty.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Stay Shady! Visits Odyssey Academy's Third Graders!

This past Friday, December 4th, DIG members Rebecca Philips, Lindsey Hunter, and Janese Laster presented Stay Shady! to the third grade class at Odyssey Academy. Students learned the importance of skin protection during all seasons of the year.

A big thank you to Odyssey Academy for hosting our team and for being such a wonderful and interactive audience! If you would like to participate in the next Stay Shady! event, e-mail DIG's Community Outreach Chair, Rebecca Philips (rcphilip@utmb.edu), for further information.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Medical Student Expectations for Away Dermatology Rotations

What should medical student rotators expect from their away dermatology rotations? Visiting students on an away dermatology elective should gain exposure to another dermatology department or division with different faculty and residents, and have the opportunity for professional interactions that may create additional career networking opportunities. Sadly, the national trend seems to be moving away from automatic interview offers for away dermatology rotators due to the increased competition from outstanding applicants and limited departmental/division resources for interview slots. However, since previous educational research in dermatology indicates that dermatology residency programs are most likely to match with either their own students or visiting students doing away electives with them, away rotations can help applicants obtain residency positions. This observation suggests that some programs may place greater emphasis on longer term interactions with dermatology applicants than excellent paper credentials and a one or two day interview. The bottom line is that away dermatology rotations may open some interview doors for applicants, but it is no longer automatic!

UTMB Dermatology Consolidates 3 Mainland Clinics at New Bay Colony Site

On Monday, Dec. 7, 2009, the three UTMB Dermatology clinics in Dickinson, League City, and Texas City will consolidate into one new location: University Dermatology at Bay Colony in League City, 2785 Gulf Freeway South, Suite 165 (next to 24 Hour Fitness at I-45 and FM 646). The phone number is (281) 534-3376.