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"Dermatology is the branch of medicine concerned with the skin and skin-related diseases and disorders…. Dermatologists see people of all ages who present with skin diseases (either benign or malignant) involving the mouth, hair, nails, sweat and sebaceous glands, external genitalia, and mucous membranes."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.177.

M1 and M2 Students

 What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

Dermatology is a dynamic field that is a wonderful mix of medicine and surgery. Get involved early. Join Dermatology Interest Group. Meet with faculty members of the Department of Dermatology. Rotate in clinic through the DIG program.

 How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

Medical students are highly encouraged to participate in and design limited laboratory investigation or clinical outcomes research that can be carried out and successfully completed. Although research does not need to be in dermatology, it is strongly recommended to participate in some dermatology-specific research.

M3 and M4 Students

 What M4 electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

Dermatology. Also:

  • Advance dermatology
  • Pediatric dermatology
  • Rheumatology
  • Allergy
  • Infectious diseases
  • Plastic surgery

 Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?


 If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many "aways" do you recommend?

One to two away rotations. Three or more away rotations in dermatology is not recommended.

 If away rotations are necessary, when should they be completed?

July to September. Immediately after the general dermatology rotation done here at Northwestern.

 Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

December and January.

 Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?

At least two of the usually recommended three letters or three out of four should be written by members of the specialty.

 If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?


 Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

No. The quality of the letter and how well they know the applicant is more important.

 Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?

No, not for most programs.

 Dermatology Specialty Session - Winter / Residency Application Information

During the winter of the M3 year, students should attend specialty sessions sponsored by the Department of Dermatology for opportunities to learn more about the specialty as well as to meet attendings and residents in the field.

Administrative Support

Trisha D. Gougis
Clerkship Coordinator, Dermatology

Department of Dermatology
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
676 North St. Clair St., Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60611