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.
5. Be HONEST
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.
6. THINK POSITIVE!
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.