The interview process for dermatology is difficult, made even more difficult by the virtual interview process. To increase transparency and help you make the best decision possible, here are some frequently asked (and sometimes not asked) questions about how we operate at SIU.
CURRICULUM AND SCHEDULE
What are the strengths and weaknesses of SIU's curriculum?
We have many strengths at SIU!
Care of both small urban as well as a “wide net” of rural patients, allowing us to see a large variety of cutaneous pathology
Resident continuity clinics, which provide excellent preparation for real-world general dermatology practice
Ample opportunity for procedural experience
Robust training in dermatopathology, derm surgery, and general dermatology.
Approximately equal faculty: resident ratio, with invested and passionate attendings.
A friendly and supportive learning environment, aka we get along.
A curriculum that evolves with the needs and educational styles of the residents each year.
Comparatively, we receive less training in cosmetics and pediatrics. Procedures such as filler, Botox, and sclerotherapy can be scheduled on Friday mornings; however, most residents choose to focus on malignant excisions (but you are in charge of your own surgical schedule!). Once a month, we have a laser clinic that an upper level resident can attend. The pediatric curriculum is also less emphasized at present (although we have been adding lectures). We do have a very robust pediatric clinic on Wednesday mornings with Dr. Conlon, our pediatric dermatologist (rotated through every 2-3 months). Dr. Conlon often invites residents to join him for consults at the children's hospital. In addition, if a resident is interested in peds, they can do an “away rotation” with a pediatric dermatologist for a month.
What is the setting for the clinical rotations?
All dermatology clinics are held in a single location in the SIU Clinics Building, which is also the location for all conferences and resident and faculty offices. Inpatient consults are at Memorial Medical Center, which is across the street.
Will I get enough surgical experience?
Yes! With time set aside for procedures on continuity patients throughout the three years of training, as well as one day per week of Mohs in the PGY3 and PGY4 years, our residents perform far more surgical procedures than required by the ACGME.
Are there opportunities for research?
Definitely. Although the focus of our program is on patient care, there are abundant opportunities to conduct research, whether in the form of clinical trials, chart reviews, or case reports. We anticipate that residents will complete at least one publication during residency.
What does a normal day look like?
As a PGY-2, you are in clinic about 7 half days a week, with 8-10 patients per half day. As you move into PGY-3 and 4, you add in a Mohs day or a float day (academic time, work in patients, etc.) on an alternating schedule with other residents. Regardless of training year, Wednesday and Friday afternoons are reserved for Didactics, and Friday mornings are reserved for dermpath and surgeries. Check out our sample schedules!
Overall, there is nice variety in the schedule so that you aren't doing the same thing all the time. Everything is located in the same clinic space, so no driving from location to location!
What can I expect with regard to work hours?
This varies by the day and by the resident, however, we would anticipate that an average of approximately 40 hours per week will be spent on direct patient care and related tasks (documentation, phone calls, prescriptions, etc.). An additional 5-10 hours per week are spent in educational conferences, for about 50 hours per week of mandatory on-site activity. Additionally, most residents will need to spend an additional 15-20 hours per week reading and studying, and this can be done from home if desired. We emphasize that these are only rough estimates, and that actual numbers for a given week may be considerably different, depending on the complexity of cases and didactic schedule. Like most dermatology residency programs, we have never had difficulty in complying with resident work hour limitations.
What is call like?
Each week, there is both a "clinic call" and "inpatient call" resident, on a rotating schedule, on top of normal clinic schedules. The clinic call resident is on call Monday-Thursday, and fields miscellaneous tasks from nursing staff, covers any absent resident's task inbox, and usually accommodates any urgent work-ins or walk-ins. The inpatient call resident is on call Thursday - Thursday, and covers after-hour and weekend clinic calls. Our consulting hospital is directly attached to our clinic space through a walkway, so seeing inpatient consults is easy and often done over the lunch hour or right after clinic. In general, we have about 2-4 inpatient consults per week, and we have the opportunity to see most of the “sick patient rashes” you would want to learn to manage before graduating. Residents typically enjoy call cases and do not find it difficult to balance clinic duties and call responsibilities.
Does SIU have opportunities for community outreach? What about working with medical students?
Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our opportunities for community outreach have dwindled significantly. Our Dermatology Interest Group (DIG), however, often have great ideas and opportunities that they will share with residents.
We have lots of exposure to medical students. PGY-3 and 4s work directly with rotating students, meaning that oftentimes we spend about 2-3 days per week with them! We also collaborate on research projects with medical students, and will go to DIG meetings occasionally to help answer questions about residency.
Is the PGY-1 year linked to the dermatology residency program?
Yes, all residents accepted to our program do a preliminary year in internal medicine at SIU prior to starting the dermatology program (PGY2-4). We find this arrangement to be advantageous, as residents entering the dermatology program are already familiar with the electronic medical record system, hospitals, and local healthcare landscape, allowing for a smooth and efficient transition. Additionally, our PGY-1 residents each spend 3 half-days a month in our dermatology clinic, during which time they are able to see a few focused patients, thus giving them exposure to dermatology patients, as well as familiarity with the dermatology visit process, documenting the visit note, and clinic workflow.
How is intern year?
Intern year at SIU is categorical, meaning that interns will work in our consulting hospital (the one attached to clinic with a walkway) for a year before moving to derm (no moving to different cities/states for intern year!).
COVID-19 is changing the schedule for internal medicine somewhat, but in general interns will have about 4-6 months of wards, and 6-8 months of elective subspecialty. IM typically has a ranking system for these electives, but derm interns usually get great exposure to relevant specialties like infectious disease, heme-onc, rheumatology, etc. Historically, interns do NOT work in the ICU or nights (due to patient load, interns may start working night shifts). There is never 24 hour call, and overall the schedule is quite nice while still being robust.
THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
How does interviewee selection process work?
We review all applications that we receive. We typically divide applications up and assign to a resident-attending team to review (usually about 60-70 applications per pair) each applicant independently. We then have a group meeting, where each pair discusses applicants based upon their independent review, and then select as a group who we would like to interview.
How many people does SIU interview for residency, and how many people does SIU accept?
In general, we interview about 40 applicants. We now accept 3 applicants per year for residency positions.
Does SIU have any exclusion criteria?
Only that an applicant must not have already completed an intern year somewhere else (this is due to funding issues).
We do not exclude any applicant based upon test scores, DO vs MD, research, grades, etc.
How is SIU working on increasing diversity and inclusion in the interview process?
Each year, we have a group meeting and discuss the process of holistic application review. We do not use a standardized review process from team-to-team, however SIU Dermatology as a group values hardworking, collegial, involved applicants with special considerations for those underrepresented in medicine, distance travelled (obstacles overcome), and those interested in practicing in underserved or rural locations.
How does the interview process work?
The interview day will involve rotating virtual interviews between each faculty member and resident class. There is no standardized interview structure from person-to-person, but many people will ask a mixture of motivational interview questions and general application/personal questions.
How does the rank list process work?
After the interview process, we have a meeting to discuss applicants and general impressions about each applicant. Then, each resident and attending will generate their own rank list and submit it to the program director. Residents have about 1/3 the weight of attendings, but our voices are definitely heard!
What about preference signaling? Pre-and-post interview communication?
Check out our main site for more information.