I Wish I Had Known: Residency Study Advice

Dermatology residency is a marathon, not a sprint, you have three years to learn the material and though it is quite a large volume, it is do-able.

As a first year dermatology resident, you will be completely overwhelmed with the pure volume of material you need to know. First year, read Bolognia, it is long and you will hate reading it some weeks, but it will provide you with an excellent foundation. Your residency will likely have a textbook schedule, try to stick to it as best you can. As you read and go to lecture, pick one notebook/book where you will write all of your high yield facts. The Derm In-Review study guide and website is a great study system and you can update it every year. It is difficult at first to determine what is high-yield but if someone says this is good to know or you feel like it is an important fact write it in your little book. You will get the hang of picking out what is important and if you write too much you will figure out a way to expand your notes so, don’t stress out about the factoid being high yield enough. This way you have all of your high yield notes in one place. This book will become the most important thing to you as your residency goes along.

You will be very happy you did as a second year.

As a second year, I would recommend reading Andrews, it is full of wonderful pearls and you are able to build on the foundation that you created with Bolognia. This is the best time to read Andrews because third year will be extremely busy. Additionally, reviewing Spitz and Wolverton are recommended. Then third year, all you need to do is review and focus on the boards which consists of looking at as many kodachromes as possible – the  Krazy Kodachromes tool on the Dermatology In-Review website are excellent study tools for this – doing as many questions you can get your hands on, going over path glass slides and using the virtual atlases and then reviewing your notes in your high yield book by making flash cards or whatever works for you. There are also many high yield board review courses that are definitely worth going to, at least one. Each year, it is recommended to attend the 60 dermatopathology timed slide review at the American Academy of Dermatology.

It is amazing how fast third year flies by so it is very important that you have prepared yourself during the first two years of residency. Third year is so busy. Because you are interviewing for fellowship or jobs, you are negotiating a contract. You are moving to your new location, you are trying to finish your resident research project and get all those papers final submitted. Believe me there are about a million different things that will eat away at your time during third year.

Lastly, as a first year you definitely need to save money to be able to afford third year. Third year is extremely expensive between paying for the boards, $2500 to register, $250 for hotel and $500 to fly. Review courses-even if you only go to one it will likely be $1000 all in all, and then add in moving, licensing, license registration and DEA costs. The amount of “extra” money you will need is extraordinary. Unless you know to save for it you may be stuck eating peanuts all of third year because they are all required costs.

Food for thought…

Done with residency? Now what? Read up here.