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  • Writer's pictureNDUK

Dermatology is only a dream away.

Author: Undeclared. This is just a reflection essay to try to encourage anyone here who is looking to pursue a speciality that appears to be competitive or unreachable.

I completed foundation training and was convinced I wanted to do hospital medicine. I wanted more black African representation in NHS hospitals and in management posts. So I pursued IMT training. It was not easy, to say the least but with hard work and perseverance, I got through.

At the end of my foundation years, I came across a post [on NDUK] which getting into dermatology. I always knew I wanted to enter dermatology but never thought those sort of specialities was achievable for someone like me. So I reached out to him. Sent him a message privately. Since then he took me under his wing. Directed me to appropriate resources, we worked to build my portfolio. From the start of my IMT training, I did the following things to build my portfolio. This is outside of the regular IMT e-portfolio and passing MRCP.

1. Completed a 2-cycle audit in dermatology and presented

2. Poster presentation at a dermatology national conference.

3. Attended taster days and week in dermatology. 4. Attended multiple dermatology courses organised by St. John’s dermatology institute.

5. Attended 4 national and international dermatology conferences (BAD, EADV, Dermschool, Dermdoc) 6. Completed a course on Dermoscopy.

7. Wrote a systematic review on a derm topic (but this is still yet to be published).

8. Wrote a chapter within a medical textbook.

9. Completed a postgraduate module in medical education

Things I did to prepare for the interview 2nd time round: 1. Bought and read the book titled “Medical Interviews (Third Edition): A Comprehensive Guide to CT, ST & Registrar Interview Skills - Over 120 medical interview questions, techniques and NHS topics explained” 2. Created template answers for 20 common questions asked in dermatology interviews (a Caucasian friend told me everyone apparently does this for competitive jobs - I did not know this beforehand). 3. Practiced these answers and varied my answers each time I practised. 4. Recorded myself on video and audio, answering questions, critiquing my mannerisms and modifying as required. Got my partner to watch the videos and critique me. 5. Bought this book and learnt the management of all dermatological emergencies and common dermatology topics Dermatology Training – The Essentials. 6. Finally worked as a clinical research fellow in dermatology for 4 weeks. 7. Attended 3 interview preparation courses: dermowl 1:1 interview, dermowl 1:1 abstracts practice, dermowl group interview preparation course. 8. There is a research section in the interview; to prepare for this. I subscribed to British journal of dermatology and JAMA dermatology. I read and digested every research article on there for the 2 months leading up to the interview.

I applied the first time and ranked very low. I was distraught. Bearing in mind I had also applied to oncology (my second choice) and secured a training number in one of the competitive deanerys. I spoke to my mentor but he told me to gird my loins, obtain feedback and direct myself to improve next time. I declined the oncology offer and I applied to attend multiple interview preparation courses. For the interviews, I obtained near-perfect scores (full marks for 2 out of the 3 main sections). I am pleased to say I secured a national training number in dermatology in a choiced location.

If you have a dream go for it! Find someone who has gone ahead of you and is willing to sacrifice their time to guide you, buddy up with them. Regardless of what tribe or nationality you are once you put your mind to a goal, and you get the right support and resources you will achieve it! Every dream is achievable with perseverance, hard-work, and a committed professional mentor. It may not happen the first or second time. Keep going you will get there. A contented and happy professional career is worth fighting for!

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