Advice from a Dermatology Resident

I recently had the chance to ask a soon-to-be dermatology resident what a laid-back student like myself should expect from medical school, and how I can prepare myself to handle the upcoming rigors. I also expressed my desire to match at a Baylor Med residency program and wondered how influential my enrollment in their medical school would be. I really appreciated his advice and thought I’d share it with you curious pre-meds out there. 🙂

I would say one thing different about medical school is that it does encompass your entire life a lot more vs. college life where I felt school was much more separate. It was a lot easier to get involved in activities whether extracurricular or those things that have no CV value (drinking, clubbing, etc.) outside of class bc, for example, in class I was sitting in General Biology I class going through the same textbook by Neil Campbell that I read in high school, except this time for a grade. In med school, you have classes but you may a lot of times feel like you’re living at school, not to mention you are learning things in much greater detail than you would in an undergraduate version of that course.

I would say as far as being laid back, you’ll find a few (although now with strict Pass/Fail, this will make even more people at least a little more laid back). You’ll quickly see though who you’ll be really fighting against, with respect to AOA – the more highly strung – who will be this way no matter what. Esp. since basic science instructional time is decreased to 1.5 years, that means you do have to cover a lot of extensive material in an even shorter period time. With your degree I think you are on much better footing as you have taken courses such Cell Biology while everyone else might just have General Biology I. Medical school, in general, has a tendency to bring back about those inner premed competition feelings.

I think it depends on the specialty, if a school is partial to it’s own. Some competitive programs (if you think Derm is competitive – Neurological Surgery makes it look like child’s play) want to create a name for themselves so they tend to want to match people who they think will do something for them, like getting someone from Cornell, or another Ivy medical school, so that people in the future applying will hold their program in higher esteem. Others, it really isn’t an issue.

I think though it is what you do as their student that matters much more in making yourself a known entity: establishing connections, participating in research, publications, interest group activities, and set yourself up with a mentor in that department to guide you through. With all that, is your home program 100% sure to take you? Of course not, as your program wants to get the best applicants they can get period, whether it’s at Baylor or not. With competitive specialties – they don’t have any “loyalty” to take someone from their home school. However, by expanding your CV in a way that’s pertinent to developing your ERAS application, that is what you are getting by doing the early legwork of participating in the department at your home program.

Now I’m looking even more forward to getting started! 🙂

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