The path to becoming a dermatologist is a long one — undergraduate school followed by medical school, residency, and certification by the American Board of Dermatology. Although most aspiring dermatologists follow the same route, a unique residency program in Florida offers opportunities not available to all, thanks to its funding structure and requirements.
Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery (ADCS) is a physician-led dermatology clinic with more than 155 locations nationwide, making it the largest owner-operator of dermatology practices in the country. Their clinical research division allows them to provide “support for some of the latest clinical drug and device trials for FDA approval.”1
The ADCS medical team has more than 300 board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons, Fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons, mid-level providers, and aestheticians.
ADCS also offers a residency program based at their central Florida location; currently there are 9 clinicians participating, representing 3 residents in each year of the 3-year program.
What is unique about the residency program is that it’s self-funded, that is, ADCS does not receive any funding from Medicare or hospitals as do most other programs. The school also mandates that residents do community service or international service as part of the program.
As explained to us by Jere J. Mammino, DO, FAAD, FAOCD who serves as program director at KCU-GMEC/Orlando Dermatology Residency Program, the self-funding nature of the program allows the program to accept residents from diverse backgrounds. Another benefit of the program’s funding structure is that, he continued, “Currently in the US, Medicare funds almost all residency programs. However, Medicare will only fund a resident once. Several years ago, we trained a resident who had previously completed an internal medicine residency. Currently, we have a resident who completed a pediatrics residency. These residents have greatly enriched our program with their additional training.”
Although the program is self-funded, the school must still must abide by all the rules and regulations mandated by ACGME [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education], the official certifying body for post-graduate training, he concluded.
We spoke with Charles Dunn, MD, the physician who had already completed a residency in pediatrics before enrolling in the ADCS dermatology program. He describes his experiences and provides insights into the program.
Charles Dunn, MD
From my perspective, the program is a traditional community-based residency program in every sense of the word. In my opinion, it is simply an amazing one that emphasizes community service, surgical excellence, diversity, and academic quality at the highest level.
My path to dermatology was not traditional. I was a board-certified pediatrician in the US Air Force, actually selected as the USAF “Pediatrician of the Year” while serving in Alaska, when I discovered a passion for the field of dermatology. Having been through residency once (Pediatrics, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, graduated 2017), I had a somewhat refined perspective on what was important to me for the program I was looking to select to launch my Dermatology journey. I have an amazing wife and 2 beautiful children who were deeply invested in this process as well. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit programs all over the country and, at each one, the 4 criteria we most passionately investigated were the Program’s Location, Culture, Leadership, and Opportunity.
1. Location: Probably self-explanatory, but we wanted to love the area we lived in. Central Florida was not a hard sell for us and our time this last year has only confirmed this to be a wonderful decision. My wife loves where we live. Our kids are receiving an incredible education, learning to surf on the weekends, playing on sports teams that I have the privilege to coach, and have been to theme parks a dizzying number of times. You won’t love the program if you don’t love the area.
2. Culture: There are several components to “culture,” and it is probably one of the hardest of these categories to quantify. For me, the spirit of culture begins and ends with the degree of joy you see in the daily interactions. The culture here is one of encouragement, enjoyment, and friendship. There is a universal drive to succeed and see those around you succeed. The program does a fantastic job of surrounding you with amazing people who want to do their best and that makes you want to do your best. On potentially a deeper level, the culture here is one where there is no fear of admitting that you may not know the answer to something. I believe this is both unique and powerful. When you feel comfortable enough to admit weakness and those admissions are met with a collective supportive effort to improve, that is a culture that profoundly promotes long-lasting clinical learning and excellence in the practice of medicine.
3. Leadership: The leadership of this program, in my opinion, is unparalleled and an area where this residency shines. In any program, the relationships you have with the faculty are instrumental in sharpening you and honing your trajectory. The faculty, clinic staff, and program support are deeply invested in us — not only as students — but as people. They model excellence. There is no shortage of role models here. What is more, they listen to us. Feedback is truly incorporated on a 360-degree spectrum. The relationship between leadership and residents is highly valued.
4. Opportunity: One of my favorite aspects of this program is what feels like the limitless opportunities offered. I have yet to come to program leadership requesting support for an educational opportunity and been told “no.” We are provided one-on-one mentoring from top-tier dermatologists and educators in the field with extensive access to practice the breadth of surgical, cosmetic, and medical procedures a practicing dermatologist utilizes. Surgical, complex dermatology, pediatric, pathology, research, presenting experiences are abundant, community service opportunities feel unlimited and international and medical outreach programs serving the underserved are both encouraged and available. What is more, the program has graduated some fantastic dermatologists. I am inspired by this legacy and confident that I will have the tools to effectively serve any community I come to when I graduate.
I hope this helps give at least a vision of why I believe this to be a fantastic program. It truly fulfills every need that I personally had for a fulfilling, engaging, and meaningful residency. I feel so blessed to be a part of this family and I love talking about it. I think of this residency as a true “hidden gem.”
About ADCS. Orlando Dermatology Residence Program. Accessed April 27, 2022. http://orlandodermresidency.com/about/