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International Educational Opportunities for Dermatology Residents

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International resident opportunities in dermatology allow residents to become immersed in different systems of medical care and expose physicians to different dermatologic conditions, cultures, and traditions that are prevalent in each country. Due to the prevalence of some dermatologic conditions in only certain regions, international opportunities expose residents to a variety of skin pathology and disease as well as a rich and diverse experience abroad.



Little has been written about the various types of international educational opportunities in dermatology, which include medical student electives, mentorship and scholarship programs for residents, international residency programs and conferences, and clinical or research-based fellowships (Table). After residency, there are many opportunities for teaching and volunteering in developing countries and ways to get involved in resident education. Although it may be difficult to participate in exchange programs during residency given the demanding schedules and limited vacation and elective time, international exchange programs in dermatology have become more accessible to residents and dermatologists worldwide. This exchange of ideas and information within our field promotes the advancement of scientific and clinical dermatologic insights that may not be commonplace elsewhere.

Resident Opportunities in Europe

During my internship, I received the Imrich Sarkany Non-European Memorial Scholarship from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, which facilitated my attendance at the organization’s 11th Spring Symposium in Belgrade, Serbia. I participated in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Belgrade, one of the oldest dermatologic programs in Europe, where I learned about Serbian culture, the country’s history as part of Yugoslavia, its health and medical education system, and its unique patient population that includes individuals from various ethnic groups. One of the highlights of my experience was learning about the Belgrade dermatovenereologic moulage collection (Figure), which was developed between 1925 and 1958 after the formation of University of Belgrade’s School of Medicine and the Institute of Dermatovenereology.1 In the early half of the 20th century when photographs were not yet established, the use of moulages as an artistic tool for medical education became very significant. The moulage collection in Belgrade is one of the most well known and is comprised of 350 pieces of which 280 are completely preserved while the rest are damaged.1 These moulages illustrate a wide variety of skin and venereal diseases that have been analyzed and contributed to the historical aspect of dermatologic education and medical conditions that are no longer prevalent thanks to modern medicine. Before World War I when these moulages were created, there was a high incidence of venereal diseases (eg, syphilis) and leprosy. Interestingly, most European dermatology residency programs incorporate the study of sexually transmitted infections and venereology as part of their training. In fact, many European dermatologists also use the term dermatovenereologist to describe their profession. Many of the moulages in the Belgrade collection were made by sculptors and painters, while others were made by physicians themselves, with great authenticity based on comparison of the original diagnosis to current diagnostic criteria.

The dermatology library in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, where the remaining moulages are housed. The dermatology library in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, where the remaining moulages are housed.

I also had an opportunity to travel to Kuwait City, Kuwait, for the Kuwait Derma Update and Laser Conference when I was a research fellow at the University of Miami, Florida. In addition to learning opportunities in the form of seminars, workshops, and interactive sessions, each morning began with a visit to one of the government hospitals for a Grand Rounds discussion and presentation of difficult cases for management recommendations. The scientific program was led by Nawaf al-Mutairi, MD, the president of the conference, and involved diverse topics particularly on laser devices and modern therapies for psoriasis and vitiligo in ethnic skin, as well as how to address complications from these therapies. I first learned about platelet-rich plasma treatments and mesotherapy through a workshop at the conference, which became wildly popular in the Middle East and elsewhere during that time.

International Resident Opportunities Through the American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) is dedicated to international education opportunities. The Education and Volunteers Abroad Committee provides 4 grants per year to US dermatology residents who are in their second or third year of residency to participate in a rural health elective in Chinle, Arizona ( -health-service-resident-rotation-program). This 1- to 2-week elective takes place at the Native American Health Service where residents provide dermatologic care to the Navajo Nation population and work with primary health care providers to assist with diagnosis and management of dermatologic diseases.

The AAD also provides funding for 15 senior dermatology residents from the United States and Canada to participate in a 4- to 6-week elective in Gaborone, Botswana, which provides opportunities for residents to learn about the care of tropical and human immunodeficiency virus–related dermatologic conditions ( These programs allow residents to develop image databases, perform teledermatology consultations, and practice in underserved areas with finite resources.

The AAD’s World Congress Fund Review Task Force also offers a limited number of scholarships to US and Canadian dermatology residents, fellows, or young dermatologists within 5 years of dermatology residency to attend the World Congress of Dermatology, the world’s oldest continuous international dermatology meeting, which takes place every 4 years ( Grants also are offered for travel to dermatology meetings in Asia, Europe, and Latin America through mutual arrangements with several international dermatologic societies and the International Affairs Committee of the AAD ( These grants offer participants an opportunity to meet foreign colleagues and establish long-lasting professional relationships.


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