Residency FAQs

What is the process for reviewing applications? Is it really holistic, as advertised? 
Yes! We take pride in our use of holistic review. Holistic review is a process that gives equal weight to academics, attributes, and experiences. Every single application we receive is carefully read by a member of our selection committee. We do not use cut-off scores, awards, society memberships, or away elective experiences to pre-select applicants. We are looking for applicants who share our mission and are driven to use their talents to improve the field of dermatology and medicine more broadly.   

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in the San Francisco Bay Area? Does the program/university help offset living costs? Is there housing for residents? 
We may be biased, but we think there are tons of advantages to living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The SF Bay Area has natural beauty and access to amazing outdoor activities (Beaches, Redwoods, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country, etc.), temperate weather year-round, performing arts and museums, and amazing restaurants. We encourage applicants to speak with current residents about their experiences in SF to better understand what it is like to live here.    

Disadvantages of living in SF include cost and commute. UCSF offers a housing/cost-of-living allowance in addition to the PGY-based salary to offset living costs. For the most up-to-date information please see the UCSF GME Trainee Salary Scales. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the PGY2 annual salary is $90,264.00 UCSF does offer subsidized housing options for residents, more information can be found at:  

How has the department and residency program supported Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and health equity?  
We are strongly committed to training a diverse group of residents who will meet the healthcare needs of the present and future and be drivers of change toward health equity. DEI and health equity are core to all pillars of the department's work and woven into all aspects of training.

Our educational initiatives include the development of social determinants of the health curriculum, full-day DEI champion training for teaching faculty and residents, and multiple Grand Rounds sessions focused on Anti-Racism, Microaggressions, Transgender health, Equity in Global Health, Homelessness, Safety Net Health Systems, Clinical experiences emphasizing health equity principles are woven into every core rotation including ZSFG (county hospital), VA medical center (including care of rural and marginally housed veterans), and UCSF Medical Center (Skin of Color clinic, Hidradenitis Suppurativa clinic, gender affirming care, among others.)  We are fortunate to be a part of a university with a clear mission and commitment to supporting diversity at the GME and system levels. Residents can participate in the GME pathway program, several of which are focused on health equity and DEI.

How does your program support resident wellness?  
Wellness is a priority.  We have two resident wellness chiefs who coordinate our wellness initiatives with support from the Program Director, Associate Program Director, and other faculty.  Residents have Big Sib-Little Sib families that provide structured social support that bridges all classes.  Residents have a fall and spring retreat where clinical duties are canceled and residents focus on group cohesion and program improvement or other resident-driven content.  Since COVID we have had to modify our opportunities for social interaction with residents, faculty, and staff, but have integrated virtual hang-outs before Grand Rounds and some lectures.  Each year we have Grand Rounds sessions dedicated to wellness or burnout prevention.   

 Residents have a half day per week of dedicated academic time, and often an additional half day for administrative time.  These days provide time for academic pursuits and facilitate the scheduling of meetings and appointments. One of the benefits of having a big program is that we can cover for each other when someone needs to miss clinic for a personal reason. We have a generous New Parent Leave program and dedicated lactation spaces at all of our sites. 

UCSF has a Director of Well-Being for Graduate Medical Education and has implemented many psychosocial supports ranging from self-help tutorials to webinars, to the group and one-on-one therapy.  These resources are easily available to both faculty and trainees.   

Is there a formal resident mentoring system? Is it robust? 
We have a formal mentoring system that has been in place for many years and has been a model for mentoring programs at other institutions.  At the start of residency, each resident is assigned an advisor that they meet with at least quarterly. We cancel Grand Rounds once per quarter to allow time for the resident-mentor meetings and the meeting of the Mentoring Committee. At the Mentoring Committee meeting, faculty discuss career development and mentoring questions for each resident and then pass the committee’s input back to the residents. In this process, we help make connections at UCSF, and around the country and world for jobs, away electives, research projects, etc. At the end of the first year, the first-year residents choose a formal mentor from the UCSF Dermatology faculty - this may mean staying with their original assigned advisor, adding a new mentor, or switching to a new mentor. 

Where do most UCSF Dermatology graduates end up?  
Over the last 10 years, 34% of our graduates have pursued fellowship training.  Of those who entered fellowship 14% pursued dermatopathology, 33% dermatologic surgery, and 52% pediatric dermatology.  Our graduates from the last 10 years have taken academic positions (39%), and joined large multispecialty groups (28%), private practice (24%), and industry (3%).  Many of our graduates who have gone into clinical practice in the area remain affiliated with UCSF as volunteer teaching faculty at one of our sites.  65% of our graduates remain in California and 35% have moved out of state.  

Is there a med-derm program? What are the opportunities for pursuing combined internal medicine/dermatology training or a med-derm focus during residency? 
We have a strong medical dermatology focus but do not have a combined medicine-dermatology program. We do have residents who have completed residencies in other fields.  Residents rotate through multiple complex medical dermatology clinics at UCSF Health.  Our dedicated inpatient rotations are intensive learning experiences focused on adult and pediatric consultative dermatology.  In addition, because we are a large program, we have flexibility in crafting individual experiences based on personal interests through mechanisms such as a month of electives taken in either PGY3 or PGY4 year and clinical electives on Mt. Zion rotations.  

How much surgical training do residents receive? 
There is one month of dedicated dermatology surgery at UCSF Health in each year of training. This rotation includes Mohs micrographic surgery, excisions, lasers, and cosmetic procedures.  Additionally, there is significant dermatology surgery exposure on VA rotations, and weekly surgery clinics at ZSFG.  We have a dedicated resident cosmetic clinic at UCSF Health. There is a monthly procedure clinic on the pediatric dermatology rotation. Our residents’ procedure log numbers are at or above the national averages, and far above the minimum ACGME requirements for most procedures.     

What are the opportunities for residents to be engaged in research? 
We encourage all residents to participate in scholarships during their residency.  Applicants who are dedicated to a full-time research career should apply for our Physician Scientist (2+2) program. For the clinical track residents, there is an opportunity to participate in research during their one month of elective, academic time (on average one half-day per week), and selective on Mt. Zion rotations. Residents may participate in the USF GME Pathways program (  Most residents pursue research or other academic activities (educational scholarship, quality improvement, etc.) during their residency.  Many residents present their work at local and national meetings.   

Who runs didactics? What is the didactic schedule? 
The didactics are planned by a curriculum committee consisting of the Associate Program Director, second and third-year residents, with additional input as needed from the Program Director. Most lectures are given on a 1 or 1.5-year cycle. We are constantly innovating the curriculum.  Some of our newer lectures include social determinants of health series, ethics, and skin of color. Lectures are primarily given by faculty with fewer delivered by fellows or resident-led sessions. Highlights of our didactic schedule include: monthly meetings with the PD/APD, monthly journal club, quarterly inpatient morning report, clinical unknowns 1-2 times a month, and weekly dermatopathology lectures.  For more information see the Didactic Curriculum webpage and a sample didactic schedule.   

What is one thing you would change about the program? What are its weaknesses? What would you improve?  
While each hospital (UCSF Health, ZSFG, and SFVA) offers a unique patient population and broad experiences in dermatology training it can be difficult to travel between these sites during the workday. Commute difficulties have been mitigated with the COVID-related decrease in traffic and the transition of all didactics to zoom.  This allows residents to attend a lecture from their assigned clinical site instead of having to go to the Mt. Zion campus for the morning lecture and then commute to the clinic site.  We strive to schedule residents so that they have no more than one commute during the work day.  Most days have no midday commute.   

Is parking subsidized? 
No. As a state facility (University of California), we cannot legally subsidize parking. Please see for more information on parking at UCSF including the pre-tax savings program.

Should applicants pursue a preliminary or a transitional year? Does it matter? 
We strongly encourage applicants to pursue a preliminary year in internal medicine or pediatrics at a rigorous program as we feel this will be the best preparation for becoming an exceptional dermatologist and overall well-rounded clinician.

Is the program welcoming of applicants who wish to couples match? How about LGBTQIA+ couples? 
Yes, we have had residents who participated in the couple’s match.  We welcome LGBTQIA+ couples.

Are applicants considered if they have failed a Step component? 
We do not use a Step 1 cut-off and consider all applicants even if they have previously failed a Step component. UCSF requires that all residency training programs (including dermatology) only rank candidates who have taken the Step 2 exam and received a passing score reported to us through ERAS before the rank day deadline in February. It is strongly recommended that applicants take USMLE Step 2 CK early enough to have passing scores available for review by our Selection Committee by mid-February 2024. If there is a valid reason why you cannot comply with this requirement, exceptions can be granted by our Dean's office on an individual basis, but we strongly urge all applicants to take their Step 2 CK exam in time to comply with this requirement.  

How much weight is given to the personal statement? 
The personal statement is one piece of our holistic review process. It is the only part of the application where we get to hear your voice and hear about your journey and aspirations in your own words. We do not have a weighted scoring system for our reviews.