Dermatology Residency Application Instructions

Consensus Statement on Upcoming Dermatology Residency Application
Cycle with Respect to COVID-19 Pandemic
This statement was released by the Program Director Task Force of the Association of
Professors of Dermatology, and represents the views of the UNM Dermatology
Residency Program as well as other Programs around the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to medical education
across the country. We understand that students’ anxiety about the upcoming
application cycle has been heightened given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19
related changes to curriculum and scheduling and how this will affect the residency
application process.
As dermatology residency program directors, we would like to address principal areas of
the residency application to hopefully lessen students’ concerns regarding the process.
These recommendations may change as the situation evolves; please continue to
monitor AAMC and institutional policies and guidelines. Additionally, this statement
represents the views of a group of dermatology residency program directors, but was
not reviewed by all programs; please continue to refer to individual program websites for
institution-specific information.
 Research: We understand that projects have been halted or delayed secondary to the
COVID-19 pandemic, and will note students’ prior and ongoing participation in research
and academic projects in this context. Efforts that students have put forth in these areas
are valuable, irrespective of whether they culminated in published work.
 Volunteer/service/other experiences: Many opportunities to serve in traditional areas
for medical school volunteer experiences have been altered or made impossible by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Additional opportunities associated with changes in institutional
practices related to COVID-19 may be available at some institutions but not at others.
Prior and current volunteer experiences will be reviewed in this context.
 Away rotations: There is still uncertainty with regards to away rotation availability at
many institutions; some institutions may be unable to offer away rotations this year at
all, while others may be offering limited spots later in the summer or fall. Many students
may be unable to participate in away rotations because of institutional travel restrictions.
While away rotations can be helpful for certain students, particularly for those without
“home” dermatology programs, or for those with family obligations in other locations,
away rotations should not be perceived as required or necessary for matching into
dermatology residency. If you have a specific interest in any programs, please visit
those programs’ websites to determine whether there are updates to their processes for
this year, recognizing that institutional policies are constantly evolving.
 Research year: In recent years, more students have been choosing to pursue a “year
off” in research prior to entering into the dermatology application process. While there
are reasons for students to pursue such an option, such as potential interest in clinical
or basic research, these experiences should not be perceived as required or necessary
for matching into dermatology residency. If you were planning on pursuing such an
opportunity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, then it would make sense to continue
those plans. However, there is no reason to choose this path simply because of COVID19 pandemic-related changes to your application.
 USMLE Step 2: Some students may have planned to take the USMLE Step 2 exam but
may be unable due to lack of availability of testing centers. USMLE scores are only a
minor component of one’s application, and students should not consider alternative
application plans due to the absence of this score alone. Please refer to individual
program websites to determine whether Step 1 score cut-offs are used and/or whether
Step 2 scores are recommended/required.
As dermatology residency program directors, we recognize that the COVID-19
pandemic will result in increased disparities in strength of applications due to lack of
opportunity for students with smaller home programs or in areas more affected by this
crisis, particularly as some students may additionally be struggling with personal or
family COVID-19 illness during this time. Understandably, this will lead to a
considerable amount of added uncertainty and anxiety for many students as they
consider future career plans. We support holistic review processes and encourage
residency programs to consider and weigh these significant factors.
In this time of great personal and professional stress, we hope that by addressing
specific concerns, students will feel more comfortable approaching the process and
maintaining their application plans, knowing that we will take into consideration the
multitude of extrinsic factors affecting applications this year.
Updated April 9, 2020

Preference signaling refers to the use of token(s) by residency applicants to express interest in a residency program during application review and prior to interview invite release. This formalized process allows applicants to express interest in a small number of programs apart from traditional methods of email, phone calls, or virtual or in-person away rotations. The goal is to ease application overload and provide programs credible expression of interest by applicants.


While the APD Program Director Task Force and APD Board have discussed mechanisms for preference signaling and have engaged with other specialties in ongoing discussions, we have decided that this effort requires further consideration. We will not be implementing preference signaling for the 2020-2021 dermatology residency application cycle.


We hope that the pilot program that otolaryngology is pursuing this year, with support of AAMC and NRMP, will provide additional data upon which to decide if this tool would be feasible for future dermatology application cycles. We will also continue to participate in cross-specialty discussions of preference signaling and other application process reforms.


There is a separate entity, Signal (@SignalTokens, that is marketing the use of tokens to students and programs via email and social media. This involves a fee to students, and does not guarantee that programs have registered to receive tokens. Given the potential issues with equity and added expenses, the Department of Dermatology of the University of New Mexico recommends against dermatology residency applicants registering with the Signal service for this application cycle.

For the 2020-2021 Interview season (for residents starting the program in 2022), all interviews will be conducted virtually in accordance with the AAMC recommendations.  Application deadline is November 9, 2020.

We accept applications to the Dermatology Residency Program through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)

Document Requirements

  • Current curriculum vitae
  • ERAS application including all recent updates
  • Personal statement
  • Dean’s letter
  • USMLE Step 1 scores
    • Our program is committed to reviewing all aspects of an applicant’s qualifications and life experiences that have contributed to their training thus far.  While one element of our application review is determining that an applicant has achieved the preferred minimum STEP 1 score of 215, we also actively review all applications for those qualities that a STEP 1 score may not capture.
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Letters from three references (including program director for the preliminary year or previous residency, if applicable, and at least one letter from Dermatology)

Supplemental Question (Optional)

(Link to optional supplemental question-250-word limit:

Choose 1: 

  1. Why do you want to train in the Southwest?
  2. Why do you want to train at the University of New Mexico and why are you a good fit for this Program?

Applicants to the UNM Dermatology Residency Program must be students at or graduates of approved medical schools in the United States or Canada and must successfully complete a preliminary (PGY-1) year before being eligible to begin dermatology residency training (PGY-2). We also accept applications from osteopathic (DO) physicians, but only after they have enrolled in an ACGME-accredited allopathic internship (PGY-1).The first year (PGY1) must consist of 12 months of clinical training in one of the following types of programs in the United States accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or a similar training program in Canada accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada: a transitional year, or a first year residency in emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, or preliminary year also accept applications from International Medical Graduates, but only if they have graduated from a medical school recognized by the Medical Board of California (,  completed PGY-1 training in the US in one of the specialties approved by the American Board of Dermatology, hold a current, valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), and are eligible for a New Mexico Medical License. Eligibility requirements for New Mexico Medical License are found at  We accept only J-1 Visas.We welcome applications from physicians with previous residency training beyond internship, particularly in internal medicine or pediatrics (even if their additional years of training make them ineligible for Medicare GME funding).

Holistic Application Review

Holistic Review considers the “whole” applicant

Holistic Review refers to mission-aligned selection processes that take into consideration applicants’ experiences, attributes, and academic metrics as well as the value an applicant would contribute to learning, practice, and teaching. Holistic Review allows selection committees to consider the “whole” applicant, rather than disproportionately focusing on any one factor. 

Core Principles of Holistic Review

  1. Applicant selection criteria are broad, clearly linked to Department mission and goals, and promote numerous aspects of diversity as essential to excellence.
  2. Selection criteria include experiences and attributes as well as academic performance. These criteria are:​​​​​
    • Used to assess applicants in light of their unique backgrounds and with the intent of creating a richly diverse interview and selection pool and student body,
    • Applied equitably across the entire candidate pool, and
    • Supported by student performance data that show that certain experiences or characteristics are linked to that individual’s likelihood of success as a learner and/or physician.
  3. Schools consider each applicant’s potential contribution to both the Department and the field of medicine, allowing them the flexibility to weigh and balance the range of criteria needed in a class to achieve their institutional mission and goals. 
  4. Race and ethnicity may be considered as factors when making admission-related decisions only when aligned with mission-related educational interests and goals associated with learner diversity; and when considered as a broader mix of factors, which may include personal attributes, experiential factors, demographics, or other considerations.*

*Under federal law (and permitted by state law)

Open House Sessions

This year, while we can’t host medical students in person for rotations or interviews, we’d love to get to know one another virtually in one of our Virtual Open Houses. We’re hosting four sessions for prospective dermatology residents