Frequently asked questions
What are the strengths and relative weaknesses of SIU Dermatology’s curriculum?
We have many strengths at SIU!
- Care of both small urban as well as a wide network of rural populations (66 counties) that allow us to see a large variety of cutaneous pathology
- All resident clinics are continuity clinics, which provide excellent preparation for real-world general dermatology practice
- Abundant experience in dermatologic surgery
- Robust training in dermatopathology, dermatologic surgery, and general dermatology.
- Nearly a 1:1 faculty to resident ratio
- A friendly and supportive learning environment with invested and supportive attendings
- A curriculum that evolves with the needs and educational styles of our residents each year
- A highly engaging dermatoethics curriculum
- An evolving and novel health equity curriculum (entitled “HEAL”: health equity awareness and learning)
- A newly created Health Equity Committee that is open to residents, faculty and medical students for engaging in discussion, development and leadership of equity work within our program
- Ample opportunities to teach medical students in and out of clinic
Comparatively, cosmetic dermatology is less emphasized at our program. We allow residents to staff cosmetic procedures (fillers, botox, sclerotherapy, chemical peels, elective excisions, etc) on Friday mornings with an available faculty member, however most residents choose to focus on benign and malignant excision. We occasionally host cosmetic practicum days where residents can practice with select patients and/or staff members who are interested. Once a month, we have a laser clinic that a PGY3/4 resident can attend. Our pediatric dermatology curriculum is less structured however we are continually expanding it and adding lectures. We have a robust and very busy pediatric dermatology clinic on Wednesday mornings with Dr. Joe Conlon, our pediatric dermatologist. Residents rotate through this clinic every 2-3 months. Dr. Conlon also invites residents to join him for consults at the children's hospital.
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 Springfield Memorial Hospital, which is across the street and connected to the clinics building via a sky bridge.
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 Micrographic Surgery in the PGY3 and PGY4 years, our residents obtain extensive surgical training and 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 submit at least one publication and/or present at least one poster during residency
What does a normal day look like?
PGY-2 (Dermatology Year 1) residents are in clinic Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday mornings and Thursdays, seeing about 8-10 patients per half day. Wednesday afternoon is reserved for didactics, and Friday morning is reserved for dermatopathology conference, followed by procedure and work in clinic, and the afternoon is reserved for didactics. Check out our sample schedules!
As you move into PGY-3 and 4 (Dermatology Year 2 and 3), we add in a Mohs day and a clinic float day every week (clinic float residents cover absent residents’ clinical duties and also use this time for scholarly work, admin time, work in patients, etc.) on an alternating schedule with other residents. The didactic schedule remains the same.
Overall, there is a 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 anticipate that an average of approximately 40 hours per week will be spent on direct patient care and clinically-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 clinical and academic responsibilities, mostly spent on-site. 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-Friday, and fields miscellaneous tasks from nursing staff, covers any absent resident's task inbox, and usually accommodates any urgent work-in and/or walk-in patients. The inpatient call resident is on call Thursday - Thursday, and covers after-hour and weekend calls. Our consulting hospital is directly attached to our clinic space through a sky bridge, 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 residents have the opportunity to see most of the “sick patient rashes” you would want to learn to manage before graduating. Most of the residents enjoy inpatient call!
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 we often 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 sky bridge) for a year before moving to dermatology (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 dermatology interns usually get great exposure to relevant specialties like infectious disease, hematology-oncology, 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 the residency application review and interviewee selection process work?
We review all applications that we receive. We divide applications up and assign to a resident-attending team to review who review each applicant independently and holistically. We consider all aspects of an applicant’s file and take note of applicant’s hardships, setbacks and barriers (such as not having a home dermatology program at their medical school). At our applicant review meeting, each pair discusses applicants based upon their independent review, and we collectively select whom we would like to offer an interview.
How many applicants does SIU Dermatology offer an interview, and for how many dermatology residency slots?
In general, we interview approximately 40 applicants. We now accept 3 applicants per year for our categorical dermatology residency program.
Does SIU have any exclusion criteria?
Only that an applicant must not have already completed an intern year somewhere else (due to funding allocation by our supporting institutions).
We do not exclude any applicant based upon test scores, DO vs MD, research, grades, etc.
In addition, SIU School of Medicine is only able to sponsor J-1 visas.
How is SIU working on increasing diversity and inclusion in the interview process?
Each year, our Program Director discuss unconscious bias, how it shows up in the dermatology workforce, the importance of diversity and inclusion in medicine and within dermatology, the process of holistic application review and standardized/structured interviewing. SIU Dermatology values diversity in our workforce and we are being intentional with our considerations for those who are underrepresented in medicine, have an increased distance traveled (overcome obstacles, barriers and setbacks), and those interested in practicing in underserved or rural locations. We include all our faculty and residents in the applicant review and interviewee selection process as well as the actual interview day.
How does the interview process work?
The interview day will involve rotating virtual interviews between each faculty member and resident class. Each interview is 15 minutes in length, and the day is concluded with a Q&A with our program directors and a resident Q&A session after that. We utilize a balance of structured and standardized interview questions along with some time for unstructured conversation.
How does the rank list process work?
Each interviewee is given equal consideration and their application is reviewed for the ranking process in a holistic manner. Faculty and residents alike submit confidential independent rank lists which are placed into a confidential ranking rubric by our program coordinator. Our program leadership (program directors and division chief) have the same weight as other faculty. Residents have approximately 1/3 the weight of faculty, but their voices are definitely heard and are a valuable component of our entire application process.
What do I need to know about pre and post interview communication?
Applicants are more than welcome to contact our program coordinator and/or program director for questions throughout the application cycle. After your interview, we will email you a brief questionnaire asking for feedback about your interview experience. Though we always appreciate your emails, “snail mail” thank cards and other post-interview gratitude notes, please know this is not required and will not influence the ranking process one way or another. If you have a strong interest in interviewing at our residency program, we encourage you to indicate your preference via the preference signaling process. If you have a strong interest in matching at our program upon completion of your interviews, you are welcome to indicate your preference to our program leadership, however, we do not require or necessitate such a response. Our policies are in accordance with NRMP rules of conduct and to ensure fairness and equity, we do not contact any applicants about their interview feedback, ranking preference or placement.
What is it like living in Springfield?
Springfield is the state capital, and is a city of just over 100,000 people in the center of Illinois. By car, we are approximately 3-4 hours southwest of Chicago and 2 hours northeast of St. Louis. We are surrounded by farmland, and serve many patients from outlying rural areas. Springfield combines the benefits of a small community (low cost of living, minimal traffic) with the opportunities of a capital city (museums, theater, lake, multiple city parks, biking/running trails, water park, state fair, Amtrak station, regional airport). Camping, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities are available at a variety of parks and recreation areas within easy driving distance. Learn more about our community, schools, cost of living and more.