Undergraduate student interested in a career in Dermatology... Advice?

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discontinuebed

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Absolutely nothing. Getting into medical school is the 1st hurdle. And I'm glad you recognize that people change their minds plenty of times before ultimately deciding.

I would definitely focus on the MCAT and nothing else.

(As an aside, and I understand that people may not agree with me, I've always found it damaging to admit to liking dermatology so early in the game. Even as a 3rd year medical student. For better or worse, EVERYONE thinks you are in it for the $/lifestyle. Even when I did decide on this field, I kept it to myself and I've found it to be the best approach IMHO. Your mileage may vary)
 
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scumbagderm

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Thanks for the great response. I figured there is not much to do right now other than focusing on getting into Medical School. Also, I have definitely experienced some "Oh, so you are just in it for the money?"-ness and it's a little frustrating as some people I've talked to think a Dermatologist is a synonym for Plastic Surgeon or someone focused on cosmetics. It's a little annoying and I have been pretty good at keeping my mouth shut thus far and will definitely take your advice on this one.

you want to do pediatrics as far as anybody knows....

and you're stickin' to THAT story until late 3rd year when you flip a 180 and decide to pursue your "new" passion: dermatology.
 
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Doublecortin

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you want to do pediatrics as far as anybody knows....

and you're stickin' to THAT story until late 3rd year when you flip a 180 and decide to pursue your "new" passion: dermatology
.
:laugh:, great advice scumbagderm!

I would actually start pursuing derm from year one, only keep a low profile about it

I would never bring up that you want to go into derm at your med school interviews. Derm definitely has a negative stigma in the medical community and many people (including med students and other doctors) are clueless about the valuable work that derms do
 

discontinuebed

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Really? I just got finished with a "Mock Medical School Interview" last week and my interviewer told me to definitely talk a lot about my experiences with the Dermatologist I shadowed as well as patients I encountered.

Oh god no. Talk about your shadowing experiences and the patients you encountered.

But provide any hint that you're set on pursuing dermatology at this stage of the game and you can expect a rejection.
 

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Talking about derm during med school interviews = instant rejection

btw, I wish I took scumbagderm's advice during years 1-3...

:thumbup::thumbup: golden
 

ginger60

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The only thing that I would add is that you should try to apply to medical schools that have dermatology departments. It will make your life a lot easier to do a rotation or do research to see if you really want to do derm if your school has a derm department.
 

doc4ever

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Although I'm no longer a premed, I'm in the very beginning of my path towards becoming a doctor....actually got a few med school acceptance letters recently :) I am really interested in dermatology, for many reasons not just lifestyle and money, and I want to avoid at least some mistakes on my way to matching into competitive residency in this specialty. I understand that I may change my mind about dermatology while in med school, but I figured it's better to reach higher than to struggle with not being competitive enough later.

So far I've kept my interest in dermatology to myself, officially I'm going into pediatrics, just like someone suggested :)

From reading this thread I realized that it's desirable to go into med school with dermatology department. Luckily, one of the schools that accepted me, has dermatology department, but I'm not 100% sure that I will choose this school based on other factors. How much harder would it be to match in dermatology after attending med school without dermatology department? Also, do I have to start doing research in dermatology during my first/second year? Does it have to be in dermatology? What other factors/qualities/characteristics do residency programs look for in successful candidates?

I realize that doing well on board exams is very important...and you have to score above the average...like around 230?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)
 

darrvao777

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1. Do not choose a school based on whether or not it has a derm department. There's a good chance you'll change your mind about the specialty you want to go into.

2. I agree it is a good idea to always aim high so you can be competitive for anything you may ultimately want to end up pursuing.

3. Contacts within the department of whatever you wish to pursue are key.

4. Pursue research only if genuinely interested (it's very easy to sniff out people who are doing it just to slap it on their resume). It does not need to be in the field you ultimately pursue but that's a good way to make contacts (see point 3)

5. Pursue research as a 1st/2nd year only if you are doing well in classes. Research doesn't help people in the bottom 3rd of their class.

6. Other factors programs look for include the same factors that got you into medical school: good grades, good test scores, good extracurriculars, good research, good letters, and good interviews.

7. 240 is average in derm. I'd aim for 250.
 

doc4ever

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1. Do not choose a school based on whether or not it has a derm department. There's a good chance you'll change your mind about the specialty you want to go into.

2. I agree it is a good idea to always aim high so you can be competitive for anything you may ultimately want to end up pursuing.

3. Contacts within the department of whatever you wish to pursue are key.

4. Pursue research only if genuinely interested (it's very easy to sniff out people who are doing it just to slap it on their resume). It does not need to be in the field you ultimately pursue but that's a good way to make contacts (see point 3)

5. Pursue research as a 1st/2nd year only if you are doing well in classes. Research doesn't help people in the bottom 3rd of their class.

6. Other factors programs look for include the same factors that got you into medical school: good grades, good test scores, good extracurriculars, good research, good letters, and good interviews.

7. 240 is average in derm. I'd aim for 250.

Thanks a lot, darrvao777!

I have a few follow up questions, if you don't mind :)

1. How to make these precious contacts within the department of interest? I understand that one way is to do research with people...but other than that? I can only think of something like approaching them to express my interest in the field and maybe shadowing them in the hospital... What kind of opportunities to introduce myself should I be thinking of?

2. What are considered to be good extracurriculars for medical students? I mean, is it the same as for premeds?...volunteering at free clinic, involvement with AMA, AMSA, derm society, honor society(hopefully), summer international experience... seems like pretty standard set of ECs, is there anything else that I should be doing as a medical student?

3. Is there a certain strategy to prepare and do very well on board exams? except for studying hard, of course. Should I start looking at USMLE Step 1 prep books during my first year or wait till second year? I heard from other med students that Step 1 tests enormous amount of details that are never covered during lectures.... so how to learn them then?

And thank you again for your advice! :)
 

darrvao777

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1. The old-fashioned way: by meeting them. Shadowing is an opportunity. Research is another. Local derm meetings are yet another.

2. I should have been more careful regarding EC's. They generally don't hold as much weight in the residency process. Above all, good grades are valued. Beyond that, I would find something that you can be involved in over a long period of time that you can talk about passionately and intelligently during an interview. Whether that's the AMA, derm society, honor society, or international experience is up to you. Again, all that means nothing if you don't have the grades to go with it.

3. I have never heard what other med students are telling you. The best way to do well on board exams is to honor everything as a 1st and 2nd year student. The earliest I would pick up a Step 1 prep book is 2nd year. Which I didn't do and still managed to receive an outstanding Step 1 score.
 

Long Dong

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1. Do not choose a school based on whether or not it has a derm department. There's a good chance you'll change your mind about the specialty you want to go into.

2. I agree it is a good idea to always aim high so you can be competitive for anything you may ultimately want to end up pursuing.

3. Contacts within the department of whatever you wish to pursue are key.

4. Pursue research only if genuinely interested (it's very easy to sniff out people who are doing it just to slap it on their resume). It does not need to be in the field you ultimately pursue but that's a good way to make contacts (see point 3)

5. Pursue research as a 1st/2nd year only if you are doing well in classes. Research doesn't help people in the bottom 3rd of their class.

6. Other factors programs look for include the same factors that got you into medical school: good grades, good test scores, good extracurriculars, good research, good letters, and good interviews.

7. 240 is average in derm. I'd aim for 250.
I agree with everything here except for #1, even if you have the slightest inclination to do derm and though you might change specialties, go with the school with a derm dermpartment that you think you might be happy at. If you go to a school without one and try to go derm it's going to be an up hill battle.
 

PeepshowJohnny

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Going to a school with a derm residency is a good consideration, but failing that, just go to a school with a lot of residencies periods. So if you decide to do rads or ortho or rad onc, you've got those connections.

And as a future radiologist, I agree. Until the end of third year, you have no interest in any lifestyle specialties.
 

Dermocrat

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As far as extracurriculars go, I agree that you shouldn't go overboard. You don't need to be on every committee. What you do need, is something substantial...something that shows your leadership ability. Maybe something showing your commitment to education (tutoring). I co-founded an organization that has raised a ton of money (over a million bones) for skin cancer prevention, and it has been a hit with prelim interviewers so far. Be creative and innovative. Show that you can be commited and that you can effectively multitask. Something enduring would be nice, but make sure it's manageable.

As far as getting to know the department, I think research is the best way...that way you actually become part of the department.
 
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