Career Profile: Erica - resident physician - dermatology

career profile - dermatology resident - university of Michigan

Name: Erica Stevens

Age: 30

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Current city: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Undergraduate with major: Xavier University of Louisiana.  Major Biology/premed

Medical School: University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama

Residency program: University of Michigan (dermatology), Baptist Health System in Birmingham (medicine - preliminary)

Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?  I knew I always wanted to be a doctor (of some type) since elementary school

undergraduate studies:

Tell me about your college application process? How did you decide on a school and major?  I knew that Xavier had a very strong reputation for placing blacks into medical school successfully so it was a perfect match for me.  Also, it was only 2 hours away from home so I did not have to be very far away from my family.

What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it? Studying for the MCAT was difficult.  I did a review course and just had to buckle down and focus on nothing but studying for the MCAT for about 3 months.

Did you take time off between undergrad and medical school? Why or why not? No I did not take any time off between undergrad and medical school.  It never crossed my mind to take time off.  It was not until I got to medical school that I realized this was common thing people did

medical school/residency:

How and when did you decide on medical school? I was pretty set on going to medical school since highschool.

What did you do to be a good medical school applicant? I followed all of the advice of our premed office. Since Xavier was known for placing students into med school, I just did exactly as I was told as far as preparing for MCAT, writing a personal statement, interviews, etc.

How and when did you decide on dermatology? What other specialties did you consider? I finally decided on derm at the end of 3rd year of med school. It was always on my radar throughout med school, but I was scared because it was so competitive- I tried to ‘like’ other things including emergency medicine and internal medicine.  At one point, I even thought about doing sleep medicine (I have no idea why) but quickly realized that was not the field for me.

Dermatology is a very competitive specialty, and U Michigan is a very competitive program. Any tips on how to excel in medical school and land a spot?  The best piece of advice could give anyone is do as well on Step 1 as you possibly can.  If you do well on that, so many opportunities will be open for you. Remaining humble and friendly to everyone are also good qualities to have and will get you very far throughout the entire process.

What about tips to succeed in dermatology residency?  Understanding that there is a LOT to know in derm is helpful.  It’s even more difficult since most medical schools don’t teach a lot of derm in their curriculum so most things are brand new when you learn them residency. Keeping up with reading textbooks, journals, etc is very important in staying up to date in this field

How did you chose your intern year? I wanted to stay local and go to a community based program so it was an easy choice.

What advice would you give to a freshman premedical student? Shadow different types of physicians to ensure that you really want to make the journey of becoming a doctor. 

What about a 1st year medical student? Spend 1st and 2nd year soaking up as much knowledge as possible to beast Step 1!!

life outside of medicine:

Career profile - dermatology resident with husband - long distance

What's your favorite city that you've lived in? Where do you see yourself ultimately? New Orleans was a very unique city to live in, but Ann Arbor has been a surprisingly interesting place to live as well.  Not sure where we will end up ultimately; my husband is still a resident in Chicago so we are taking it one step at a time

Big picture:

What does your ideal career look like? Seeing a variety of patient populations with a mix of med derm and cosmetic derm

Where do you see yourself in five years?  I see myself reaching the sweet spot of having a strong fundamental knowledge of the latest and greatest in dermatology while developing and honing my experience and skills in treating patients on my own.  Hopefully I will have 2 children by then too!

What sacrifices have you made for your career? I have spent my entire residency away from my husband because I knew that U. of Michigan was a great place to train for dermatology

Any tips on balancing a long distance relationship with residency? Balancing long distance relationships and residency is definitely tough.  I think there has to be very open communication multiple ways of communicating (facetime, Skype, etc) just to change things up. Also I think it is important to make visiting each other a top priority and try to go to each other's conferences too (that's a great way to do what you have to do for work and see each other at the same time).  Lastly, when you do see each other, go all out! I try to enjoy our time together to the fullest since it doesn't happen that often (about 1-2 times per month)