Life lately, plus tips on getting into a dermatology residency program

This time last year, I was so anxious about the physician licensure exam and dermatology residency applications. Now, I’m already a first year resident, and our section is now accepting applicants for the new batch of dermatology residents for next year. Where did the time go?! The answer is here — less blogging, but more of case presentations, a lot of patient interaction, research preparation, staff meetings, medical missions, fund-raising activities, post-graduate courses, and learning sessions with our consultants. I’m surprised how listing all these things I’ve done in less than a year of training makes me feel quite accomplished already. Still, there’s still SO MUCH to learn.


I’m thankful to friends who have shared with me tips on dermatology residency when I was still an applicant and I thought it would be nice to share a few tips from my experience to pay it forward. So, here they are:

1. SUBMIT your application requirements EARLY.

It’s important that you’re chill and only focused on studying a few days before your entrance exam in each institution.

2. Study HARD, study SMART

I applied in UERMMMCI and EAMC and the exams were definitely harder than the PLE! It’s impossible to study everything on Andrews’ or Fitzpatrick’s dermatology books exspecially if you are a fresh board exam taker and only have a few days or weeks to study all about the skin, hair, and nails. It pays to have reviewed dermatology stuff while you are still in clerkship and internship. Ask your dermatologist friends on what topics to focus on before trying to memorize everything. Trust me on this!

3. The MORE, the MERRIER

Dermatology is a very competitive field and more people are applying year after year. Most people would apply to more than one institution, and it’s actually the smartest thing to do if you want to get in. Don’t put all your eggs in just one basket. You also have to save some cash. Each institution has an application fee (1500 to 3000 pesos, usually).

4. Focus on YOURSELF

Just like in everything else, DO NOT compare yourself to other applicants. You may have the tendency to think that you have a slimmer chance at getting in because one applicant is smarter, has a higher GWA or board rating, is more beautiful, etc. Don’t let insecurities get in the way of getting what you want. Just do your best to get that spot.


During the interview, they will ask you so many things. Some questions would be much harder to answer than the others — “Which institution is your first choice?” You have to be honest because consultants (who may be active in more than one institution) talk to each other about their applicants. If you lie, chances are they would know.


I’ve always been an optimistic person and this really helped me in times of great amount of stress. After my UERMMMCI interview, and after seeing the other nine interviewees with me, I was so sure that applying to only two institutions is not enough. I would always tell myself that I’ll be a dermatology resident, in which institution, I was not sure, but I’ll be a derm resident.

On the day that I was supposed to go to Ospital ng Maynila and Philippine General Hospital to hand my application requirements, I got a call from Dr. Baclagan (UERMMMCI Dermatology chief resident at that time), she told me that I got in — “Rach, tanggap ka na.” I said, “For pre-residency, ma’am?” and she replied with, “Hindi, tanggap ka na.” It was one of the happiest days of my life — I was way happier when I learned I’m already a derm resident than when I knew that I passed the board exam. TRUE STORY. Iba yung kilig, and I saved some cash kasi hindi na ako nag-apply sa OM and PGH. HEHEHE.


9 thoughts on “Life lately, plus tips on getting into a dermatology residency program

    • Hi, Raisa! I actually started studying for derm residency applications when I was still an intern. My elective rotation during clerkship and internship was derm (two weeks each year). During internship, I listed all the cases I saw in the derm OPD during the day and then I would read these on Andrew’s or Fitzpatrick’s Atlas during my free time, even if I was not rotating in derm anymore.

      There will be so little time to study for derm after the PLE (if you are going to apply in the same year). I also asked my friends who were already derm residents, junior consultants, or those who already applied the year before regarding the questions or topics asked during their entrance tests. The sample questions can give you an idea on what topics to focus on.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!


      • Thank you for replying.:) unfortunately I don’t know anyone from derm.:( Is it a bad idea if I read Andrews from cover to cover? I’m afraid I won’t be able to retain much info before the exam.:(


      • Not a bad idea, just study! Pero focus on the common diseases and once you apply to the PDS institutions, don’t be shy to ask the residents about the common conditions that they see in their clinics, and some study tips. They’ll be willing to help for sure. 🙂


  1. Hello Doc Rachelle! I’m a public health physician working in the Rural Health Unit for 1.5 years now. Just would like to ask re: applying to dermatology residency program, is community med experience a plus (or just a neutral factor) in terms of application? What are some tips to highlight public health interest during the interview and/or one’s personal statement? Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, JP! I think your experience in community medicine can be a point of interest during interview. It is likely that consultants will ask you about your work/activities after passing the PLE. If they ask you about the reason why you’re applying in derm, you may want to add about the skin diseases that you see in your community and the benefit of undergoing training to be able to correctly diagnose and treat dermatologic cases.

      Hope this helps. Good luck! 🙂


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