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IDEAS for Prospective and Current Medical Students: Volunteer/Get-Involved-in-Dermatology!

 

Although there are many opportunities to volunteer in medicine, the ones in Dermatology are not always easy to find.  So, here are some ideas on how to find or even create them!

1. American Academy of Dermatology offers Camp Discovery Program – a summer camp for kids and teenagers (8-16 year olds) with skin conditions. June through August, one week at a time, in five states: Minnesota, Connecticut, Washington, Texas and Pennsylvania. Alongside dermatologists and nurses, your efforts will allow children to learn how to swim, water-ski, fish, ride horses, and even build during arts and crafts.  As many of the volunteers and counselors also have skin diseases, this is a great opportunity to learn about dermatology and provide a much needed service.

To learn more about this program, please visit http://www.campdiscovery.org/

 

 - Helpful Hints on When to Volunteer:

College Students:ž 
For those who are premed or just thinking about medical school and dermatology, summer is a great opportunity to refocus your academic efforts by volunteering with a meaningful program.

First Year of Medical School: 
You still probably get your summer off (unless you are enrolled in another summer program, but even then you might be able to get a couple of weeks off for this cause).

ž Second or Third Year of Medical School:
If you are a second or third year med student, then you don’t have any control over your schedule and summer might as well be in January; but, you may find a free week or two after the Step 1/Step 2 before rotation to volunteer.  If you have an elective (which usually lasts 2 weeks depending on a school) during June-August, you can ask your school officials if volunteering at the Camp Discovery could count as that elective.

 

2. Shadowing/volunteering experience in an academic setting. Try to call/email a local Dermatology program (just go to the department’s website to find contact information; usually the residency/program coordinator is the best person to contact first) and see if you could shadow a resident/attending. Try to do it in April, May or June when all M4 rotations, residency interviews, and the Match are over!

 

3. Research - If you cannot get shadowing experience, ask about research opportunities with the Dermatology Department! Usually residents have a lot of cases they need to write up, but do not have time!  Sometimes residents have oral presentations at conferences and need to prepare posters – that could be a great and quick project!

 

4. Dermatology-related Medical Fields - If you do not have Dermatology Department at a nearby Medical Center, try to get some experience in another department, where you will still see some interesting skin findings. Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Plastic Surgery, Pediatrics and Pathology are great options!



5. Volunteer at Screening or Awareness events - Find out if there is a local skin cancer screening at a local health-fair or any skin disorder awareness projects in your area.  If there are none, ask a local private practice/university dermatologist to help you organize skin-cancer screening or particular skin disorder awareness. DIGA's website has a lot of helpful information on:

               
                -psoriasis awareness: http://www.derminterest.org/Service/PsoriasisAwareness.aspx

              ž  -melanoma awareness and fundraising: http://www.derminterest.org/Service/MelanomaAwarenessandFundraising.aspx

                -sun protection education (with documents and power points):
                 http://www.derminterest.org/Service/SunProtectionEducationPresentations.aspx



6. Arrange a lecture - Finally, you can ask a dermatologist/resident to give a mini-lecture on acne/warts/moles or other common condition at your school! You can also turn it into a volunteer opportunity to teach what you learned from the lecture at a local elementary/middle/high school (adjusting the format accordingly) and giving some basic “healthy skin” counseling after the presentation!



Mentorship Grants:

Women’s Dermatological Society Medical Student Awareness Program:  

The Medical Student Awareness Program offers grants of up to $2000 to qualifying medical students interested in learning more about dermatology by working with a leading dermatologist in private practice or at a university.  

http://www.womensderm.org/grants/medical_student.html

Diversity Mentorship program:

First- through fourth-year medical students who are considered to be underrepresented in medicine* may apply to participate in the American Academy of Dermatology’s Diversity Mentorship program. This unique program offers hands-on exposure to students who are interested in learning more about dermatology as a medical specialty through a one-on-one mentorship experience with a dermatologist of the student's choice. Each medical student who is selected to participate in the Diversity Mentorship program will receive a $1,500 stipend to help cover the cost of travel, housing and meals during the one month (160 hour) mentorship.

For more information, please visit: http://www.aad.org/member-tools-and-benefits/residents-and-fellows/diversity-mentorship-program-information-for-medical-students#.UVTncRlAvtY 

*The Academy recognizes the following racial groups as underrepresented in the field of Dermatology (as related to the US population): African American, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

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We hope you think about these and other projects you might find/come up with – be that shadowing or volunteering - and see how much experience you can gain and what a difference you can make, even before entering medical school or residency! These experiences will be much more than just another check mark on your résumé; it will be a personal reminder to why you are doing so much studying on your way towards becoming a physician!

 

If you know of other opportunities to volunteer or participate in dermatology related activities as an undergraduate or medical student, let us know and we’ll add it to the website!
Jim.Griffith@derminterest.org

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