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Premedical Dermatology & Clinical Research Gap Year (medical assistant and clinical research coordinator)

In conjunction with Beacon Clinical Research, DermCare Experts offers its Combined Dermatology and Clinical Research Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Fellowship, an innovative two-year program designed to help college graduates gain extensive exposure to patient care and clinical research through an immersive and diverse experience which strengthens their medical school application in this extremely competitive environment.

DermCare Experts is a busy urban dermatology clinic in metro Boston, affiliated with Beacon Clinical Research which is an independent clinical research site with a 25-year track record in dermatology and internal medicine trials. Premedical fellows will therefore gain a wide variety of experiences in two years.

Premedical fellows will become certified medical assistants and certified clinical research coordinators upon completion of the onboarding and training process. As medical assistants, they will be deeply engaged in outpatient dermatology, one of the most competitive medical specialties to enter. In doing so, they will learn core clinical skills and critical thinking applicable to all areas of medicine, as well as gain an understanding about the fundamentals of patient management and clinical decision-making. By working alongside the physician, fellows witness the importance of continuity of care, as they are often the first point of staff contact the patient has with the clinic, and continue following the patient throughout their treatment. Fellows also enhance their interpersonal skills working with the clinic’s culturally and socioeconomically diverse urban patient base.

Premedical fellows also work as certified clinical research coordinators fully responsible for leading a variety of trials sponsored by multinational pharmaceutical companies, and will have a first look at therapeutics in the pipeline. They serve as the main contact for the pharmaceutical study monitor, while managing all aspects of patient recruitment and trial execution under the supervision of the principal investigator. Although many studies are dermatology trials, fellows also work on trials in other disciplines, and attend funded national training conferences for the trials they run.

Additionally, fellows will also be asked to engage after hours in academic pursuits related to what they are learning in clinic. They are asked to read widely, ranging from textbooks to medical journals, as well as the popular press about hot button issues in medicine. Clearly, they will be expected to gain dermatology knowledge, and they may be responsible for leading discussions about issues they encounter in clinic by delivering presentations to their peers. They have the opportunity to attend the clinic’s lecture series by invited speakers; grand rounds; educational dinner lectures in metro Boston; and dermatology conferences both in-town and out-of-town, the latter for which housing and transportation would be funded. Fellows are also encouraged to write publishable work when opportunities arise.

Through the program’s contacts, they also have the chance to shadow and network with physicians in other fields of medicine, thus expanding their understanding of different specialties. In addition, fellows work side by side with medical students who at times rotate through the clinic.

Fellows also spearhead the clinic’s community and public health outreach, by arranging free skin cancer screenings and a variety of programming at community organizations. The clinic has also launched an Urban High School Premedical Mentorship Program, where fellows serve as Big Sibs to underprivileged youth to further their interest in medicine as a future career.

As appropriate, fellows may join the physician on international medical mission trips, with possible funding for expenses such as flights and hotel.

With this holistic and intensive training approach, those who graduate are uniquely poised to excel in the medical school application process and later as medical students, having developed confidence in interacting with patients to help manage their care under the tight supervision of the physician. In particular, participants will be extremely well-prepared to undertake future dermatology rotations in order to enter the highly competitive dermatology residency match.

Applicants who are looking only to scribe from 9 to 5, and who are reluctant to invest the effort and hours this highly demanding and all-encompassing fellowship requires, will find this program a poor fit. Successful fellows have grit; will accept and incorporate constant and blunt feedback without wilting under pressure; and are willing to work in a driven environment characterized by honesty and transparency with excellent patient care as the key touchstone. Fellows should be prepared to function as junior trainees. They will have substantial responsibility, will be held accountable for their actions, and should expect immediate and unsparing evaluation of their output. They will become familiar with the parameters against which they will be evaluated in the future, as they will be assessed against the basic principles embodied in the core competencies of the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education, tailored of course to their very early stage of training.

Specifically, the first three to four months are the most challenging. Because they arrive with no true medical background, fellows should expect an incredibly steep learning curve and will often have long workdays, with weekend catch-up as they work on their notes and grapple with the entirely new vocabulary of medicine, specifically dermatology. Clinic is fast-paced with many patients daily who come to be seen because of our good reputation for quality care, and every patient generates administrative work for which the fellow is responsible. Managing their patients with physician oversight is how fellows learn, both now and through the years as a medical student and resident. Through this they gain a first-hand understanding of self-directed learning as practicing physicians.

The fellowship is total immersion, with long hours and honest feedback. Do not expect a relaxing gap year. This will be the most difficult work endeavor one will have undertaken by this point post college.

Do expect to graduate with the skills to rise to the top of one’s medical school class, and particularly stand out to the dermatology department if that is the field one desires.
One should not apply if one is not prepared to fully engage in this all-encompassing experience into real-life patient care, clinical research, and start-up tech culture.

Candidates must submit a cover letter, resume, transcript, and one actual letter of recommendation emailed directly to the clinic at, or through their school’s career center listing such as Handshake. Incomplete applications will not be considered. It is also strongly advised to have completed the MCAT before the fellowship because studying to score higher on the MCAT will be frankly impossible given the fellowship’s hours. Interviews are conducted via video meetings. We actively seek diversity in all senses: gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status.

We offer PTO and paid holidays - different from other hourly gap year positions.