Day in the Life: Dermatology Residency

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Some people have the idea of dermatology residency being an easy residency that you can just cruise through. While it is true that dermatology is very lifestyle friendly (like all weekends off), it is also very demanding and fast paced. Read below for a taste of what a day in the life of a dermatology resident is like!
    6:30 AM- Rise and shine
    Clinic starts at 8:00 AM sharp. But I am definitely behind on my reading, so I try to squeeze in 45 minutes of reading my textbook before leaving for the day. I quickly make my coffee, grab a piece of toast, and head to clinic. There is surprisingly a lot of reading in dermatology residency. You have to be able to recognize thousands of conditions and there is a lot of time spent studying on your own time.
    8:00 AM- 12:00 PM- Clinic (general dermatology)
    Dermatology clinic is busy. Typically there are patients scheduled every 15 minutes, which means you will see 16 patients in a usual morning clinic. That is a lot of people to see, talk to, and keep track of. I spend my morning zooming around in general dermatology clinic doing seeing everything from simple skin checks, to biopsies, to hidradenitis suppurativa. Each patient can have multiple follow-up tasks and on any given day, I am getting biopsy results, lab results and messages from patients. There is really a lot to keep track of, especially when you see so many patients.
    12:00 PM- 1 PM- Lunch
    Lunch is actually a great time to catch up on my inbox. I have a ton of messages and results from patients I saw the day before. Depending on your residency program, either you or the staff will be calling patients to share their biopsy or lab results with them. You might also be in charge of obtaining prior authorizations for patient medications from insurance companies, which can suck up a lot of your time. Lunchtime is excellent for catch-up. Some days I will have didactics during lunch instead.
    1 PM- 5 PM- Clinic (pediatric dermatology)
    This afternoon I am in pediatric dermatology clinic again with patients scheduled every 15 minutes seeing a full age range from newborns to young adults, it’s great! A dermatologist can make such a huge difference in the life of a child.
    As a side note, clinic is scheduled by half days. Some days I will be in general dermatology clinic for both half days, sometimes I will be in general dermatology clinic, pediatric dermatology clinic, cosmetic clinic or complex medical dermatology clinic. One of the best parts of dermatology is the variety.
    5 PM- 5:30 PM- Catch up on patient tasks
    After a full day of clinic, I still have some leftover tasks in my inbox that I didn’t get to during lunch so I spend some time working through those.
    5:30PM- 6PM- Home and dinner
    I am exhausted from running around all day so i head home and eat a quick dinner.
    6 PM- 8:30 PM- Study and work on presentation for didactics
    I try to spend time in the evenings studying and reading if I have the energy, it is really important to keep up with dermatology reading. I also have to work on a presentation for didactics on a chapter in the textbook we use, so I spend some time making my slides and outline.
    8:30 PM- 11:00 PM- Gym, time with family and bed
    There is some of that balance! I try to hit the gym 3x per week, even if I am exhausted from running around clinic all day, try to spend time catching up with friends and family and get some good sleep.
    So overall, you can definitely achieve balance throughout residency (regardless of specialty). Some days are busier than others- there are a lot of exams throughout dermatology residency and a lot of book reading/studying (honestly more than you would ever expect). Some mornings are spent in didactics or grand rounds. Some clinics are busier than others. Sometimes you get out a little later or earlier and sometimes you will have a mountain of tasks from a particularly complicated clinic. You will sometimes be on call and have to go to the hospital see patients after you are done for the day in clinic and keep getting called throughout the night (dermatology call can actually be really busy but obviously it varies week to week just like any other specialty). But at the end of the day if you love what you do, you can handle even the busiest and most stressful of days!
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