Without a comprehensive database of dermatology fellowship programs to guide her, dermatologic surgeon Melanie Palm, M.D., M.B.A., was forced as a young resident to forge blindly through the fellowship search process.
She had to rely on word of mouth, past residents, mentors, outdated hand-me-down lists from past fellows and the ACGME website to gain information not only on the fellowships themselves but also the application process in general. While Dr. Palm eventually found the “ideal” fellowship training, she said it was ultimately accomplished through a “very convoluted” process.
From that experience, Dr. Palm developed the idea for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery’s DermSurg Fellowship Finder – a database providing a single source for all Mohs, procedural, cosmetic and laser surgical fellowships in the United States and Canada.
“So many residents were struggling to find where fellowships were available around the country, and there was no central database for this,” said Chicago-based dermatologic surgeon Carolyn Jacob, M.D., who served as Dr. Palm’s mentor on the Future Leaders Network project. “It was difficult to apply, not knowing what was available.”
The goal behind the DermSurg Fellowship Finder is to broaden awareness of advanced dermatologic surgery and training opportunities among dermatology residents, thereby elevating the specialty of dermatology within the field of medicine.
“The ASDS has the opportunity to shape young, bright and eager dermatology minds,” said Dr. Palm, who now practices in Solana Beach, Calif. “The Fellowship Finder serves as an excellent reference for residents to receive in-depth, pertinent information for all dermatologic surgically oriented fellowships in the U.S.”
So far, 53 dermatology fellowship programs are included in the Fellowship Finder, which is organized by geographic area and program type. The database also includes contact information and program descriptions. The Fellowship Finder particularly is important for residency programs that may not have a Mohs surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist on staff, Dr. Palm said.
The Fellowship Finder is a result of a 2010-11 ASDS Future Leaders Network project. The leadership development initiative is designed to prepare young doctors to be the next generation of leaders in dermatologic surgery.
The Future Leaders Network not only gave Dr. Palm the opportunity to champion a worthwhile project but also provided her with the chance to meet other young dermatologic surgeons and develop meaningful relationships with mentors and other ASDS members.
“It has led to so many other membership and participation opportunities for me within the ASDS,” she said. “The Future Leaders Network was the bridge that carried me from motivated resident into a young leader within the organization.”