Career Advising

Specialty Choice: Dermatology

DermatologyA dermatologist is trained to diagnose and treat pediatric and adult patients with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair and nails, as well as a number of sexually transmitted diseases. The dermatologist has had additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, melanomas, moles, and other tumors of the skin, the management of contact dermatitis, and other allergic and nonallergic skin disorders, and in the recognition of the skin manifestations of systemic (including internal malignancy) and infectious diseases. (Source: AAMC Careers in Medicine)

Associated Societies

Quick Facts

The following information comes from the National Resident Matching Program's Charting Outcomes in the Match 2014 (PDF)  based on matched applicants in the United States.    

Advice for MS1 and MS2 Students

Q: What particular activities should first and second year students get involved with who are interested in pursuing this specialty?

Early shadowing is beneficial to explore the specialty and build a relationship with a potential future letter-writer. First year is also a great time to get involved in research for this competitive specialty.

Q: Are research experiences important in your specialty?

Essentially required due to the field’s competitiveness; highly suggested to have a first-authored publication.

Q: If so, do these need to be specialty specific research experiences?

No, any research experience is better than no research experience!

Q: Does class rank matter?

Yes. 50.8 percent of accepted applicants are in AOA. A high Step 1 score is also expected.

Advice for MS3 and MS4 Students

Q: When should I ask for letters of recommendation (LORs)?

Ideally you should ask for letters in May, but absolutely no later than July, allowing your letter writers adequate time to upload your letter prior to the ERAS application submission date of Sept. 15. Your personal statement and CV should be ready as well as many letter writers will request this in order to write you a strong letter.

Q: How many LORs do you need?

Minimum of three

Q: Is a letter from a chair required?


Q: Do all letters need to be written by members of this specialty?

No but you should have two from dermatology faculty.

Q: Does your Step 2 CK score matter?


Q: What electives would you recommend for someone who is interested in pursuing this specialty?

Dermatology, rheumatology, allergy, infectious disease, plastic surgery, pulmonary, cardiology

Q: Should a student interested in this specialty do away rotations?


Q: If so, how many “aways” do you recommend?

One or two.

Q: Which month is recommended to take off to interview?

Most interviews are from December through January.

Similar Specialties to Consider

  • Internal Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Plastic Surgery

Residency Programs

Available Fellowships

  • Dermatopathology
  • Pediatric dermatology
  • Micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology (procedural dermatology)
  • Cosmetic dermatologic surgery

Looking into the Future/Changes in Health Care

The multitude of major scientific advances in all areas of dermatology will add to the complexity involved in the management of patients with skin diseases.  While it is not impossible for a solo practitioner to remain optimally well informed as these advances occur and still permit the delivery of the best possible care for all of his or her patients, it will certainly become more difficult in the future. Evidence that this trend has already begun can be found from a recent AAD dermatology practice survey showing a decline over the past 10 years in the percentage of solo dermatologists practicing in the United States. In 2007, 44 percent of dermatologists were in solo practice, but by 2014 that number had dropped to 35 percent. Further, the percentage of dermatologists in dermatology specialty group practices and multispecialty group practices averaged 50-60 percent. (Wheeland M.D., 2016)

With the rapid evolution of communication technology, [people] can now conduct high-resolution live video chats between mobile phones anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly, the notion of telemedicine has risen to prominence in recent years. Teledermatology, in particular, has been deemed the “next big thing” for quite some time. (Lio MD, 2014)

Additional Information

See the Career Essentials Pilot Page regarding specialty specific advice for more detailed information and resources.


Last edited on 11/27/2023.