You already know it’s “hard to match into dermatology” (or Urology, or Orthopedic Surgery, or Plastics Or… Or…). This guide is written with the assumption that you CAN do it, and focuses more on HOW you can do it (instead of IF you can do it). I STRONGLY feel that your BELIEF ALONE has a huge impact on your actual ability to match. I have written this with dermatology in mind (because that’s what I matched into), but the principles, tips and tricks apply to the match in ALL competitive specialties. I’m going to tell you something that maybe no one else has told you: You (yes, YOU) CAN become a dermatologist (or ANY type of doctor) if you truly want to, and if you’re ready to work for it. You CAN become anything you want to become. You CAN.
While there is NO GUARANTEED FORMULA to matching to the program of your dreams, I analyzed my personal experience, the experiences of others I know, and talked to multiple faculty members and program directors at different programs and came up with a few suggestions that I think will change the game for you. The guide is divided into three parts because there is so much information. Look out for Parts 2 and 3 soon.
- Change Your Mindset (FAITH)
- Make people fall in love with you (NETWORKING)
- Show them how smart you are (ACADEMICS)
- Show them how curious you are (RESEARCH)
- Show them how unique you are (HOBBIES/TALENTS)
- Paint a glorious picture (ERAS)
- Make them laugh, or cry (INTERVIEW SKILLS)
- Maintain an elevated mindset (AFTER THE MATCH, FAILURE, etc)
- Q&A (ADVICE FROM RESIDENTS/ FELLOWS/PROGRAM DIRECTORS)
The next few paragraphs are about my personal journey to dermatology. Skip down to The Ultimate Guide for Matching into Competitive Specialties Part One if you would rather just get straight into the guide.
WHO AM I?
Before I start, some of you probably want to know who I am, and why I’m writing this. My name is Oyetewa Oyerinde, and I’m currently an internal medicine preliminary intern in Washington, DC. I matched into the Harvard Combined Dermatology Program, and I’ll be starting there in less than 6 months. I took one year off for research at the NIH through the Medical Research Scholars’ Program after my 3rd year of medical school. As for my stats, I passed all of my M1/M2 classes, then received honors/outstanding grades on all of my M3 clerkships. I scored in the 240s on USMLE Step 1 and 250s on USMLE Step 2 CK. I was not AOA. I participated in a lot of community service throughout medical school, and was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society upon graduation.
WHY DID I CHOOSE TO GO INTO DERMATOLOGY?
I became interested in dermatology initially because I noticed how few dermatologists were interested in the problems that affected people of color. I noted that many of the common treatment modalities in dermatology didn’t work on darker skin or coarser hair. I found that dermatology was a field with a wide diversity in practice options; in a single day, you can go from counseling patients about a chronic condition in clinic, to a procedure to cut out a mass from someone’s skin, to the hospital for a consult on an acute eruption. Most importantly, I saw dermatology as an excellent platform to speak to patients and people in general on self-identity and esteem while helping to improve their quality of life.
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE ON MY JOURNEY TO MATCHING?
- Faith: Trusted in God and the belief that I could do whatever I put my mind to.
- Networking: Contacted over 50 dermatologists across the country via email and formed relationships with faculty members and program directors.
- Research: Took a full year off from medical school for focused dermatology research
- Talents: Highlighted my spoken word poetry on my application, and was often asked to perform a short poem in the midst of interviews, which helped me to stand out from other applicants.
- Away Rotations: Did 3 away rotations, and did my best to KILL THE GAME on all three.