The fellowship opportunities in dermatology (before and after residency) are endless and one of a kind. Before beginning my residency at the University of Maryland, I was lucky to have landed a clinical fellowship focusing on dermatologic and laser surgery at the Mohs and Laser Unit at the University of Miami. To this day, it was one of the experiences that has prepared me the most for a career in dermatology. With the development of more focused areas of interest in dermatology and the trend of subspecialization, there are more and more opportunities for furthering your interests and goals through fellowship and specialty training in these areas, whether in a national or international setting. In my institution, there were also fellowship training programs in dermoscopy, melanoma, wound healing, hair and nail disorders, and contact dermatitis.
These fellowship experiences could also serve as a “culture shock” and a new window into a different learning environment. Brown University, where I completed my medical training, was a striking contrast to the typical inner-city wards and immigrant patient population at Jackson Memorial Hospital. However, the research experience was excellent, the papers and chapters started piling up, and with that came further opportunities and invitations to write, publish and present.
Throughout my training it is clear that my postdoctoral fellowship was most beneficial to my current patients that benefit from previous experiences I had handling challenging conditions at Jackson. Training in a different institution offers several advantages that broaden your understanding of different techniques and interdisciplinary approaches, thus expanding your horizons – which is necessary in becoming independent as your career evolves. Such experiences also provide an invaluable insight into the global nature of dermatology and broaden your network, which often results in lifelong friendships.
There are also many opportunities for residents and dermatologists to enjoy the benefits of a mentorship or fellowship experience early on. Several major dermatologic societies, such as the International Society of Dermatology, offer an opportunity to pursue a preceptorship with an international dermatologist that is renown in a certain area, i.e. tropical dermatology. Exchanges like these present a movement toward international experiences, growing achievements and professional relationships, just like those I enjoyed in my fellowship experience. It is encouraged to take advantage of these training opportunities in dermatology, whether in a national or international setting, with lifelong benefits to us individually as well as to the entire specialty worldwide.