Combined Dermatology and Clinical Research
Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Fellowship
A two-year premedical clinical training program
B. D’Amore - Drexel University College of Medicine 2022
I trained under Dr. Kuohung in her premedical fellowship and am now a fourth-year medical student interviewing for residency. From my medical school experiences, I can confidently say Dr. Kuohung’s program is the best option for premeds looking to develop strong clinical skills and excel as future medical students. This became undoubtably evident during my clinical rotations. I already knew the basics of interviewing patients for detailed medical histories, performing physical exams, writing comprehensive progress notes, and developing strong management plans all because of Dr. Kuohung’s teachings. She even taught me to first assist in skin cancer surgeries, the basics of suturing, phlebotomy, and wound care management. There are countless examples when I’m with an attending or patient and I know what to do from my training under Dr. Kuohung.
Many medical schools assume students will develop clinical proficiencies through their third- and fourth-year clerkships and therefore brush over these skills before clinical rotations. This is because there is so much didactic material to learn in too little time during the pre-clinical years. Unfortunately, this places many students at disadvantages when beginning third year if they had no prior clinical training and direct patient experiences. Students are graded after each rotation and these are weighed heavily by residency programs, which are becoming very competitive across almost all specialties. Learning the skills taught by Dr. Kuohung gave me a major advantage and was a significant reason why I received honors for grades in nearly all rotations.
Even since training under Dr. Kuohung, she is still the best mentor I’ve had during my career. We are always messaging over Facebook updating each other about our lives. She has a genuine interest in my life and how I’m doing in school. Knowing how busy she is between her clinic and 4 children, it says a lot about her character that she takes the time to reach out to me. We have a very close relationship and I feel more than comfortable going to her when I need help in my career or just life in general. For example, she connected me with researchers at MGH where I worked on several projects that are either published in a journal or accepted as abstracts to major academic meetings.
Furthermore, I worked for Clinical Research io (CRIO) as part of her fellowship program and continued this work remotely during medical school. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn the ins and outs of clinical research trials, including a detailed analysis of the protocols, study visits and patient safety. I started as a study designer and was then promoted to quality control, all of which can be done remotely. Not only did I gain valuable knowledge in the clinical research space, but the work was a lifesaver for meeting the never-ending expenses in medical school.
While I can promise that her trainees will be excellent future medical students, going through her program is challenging work. She treats her premeds as she would rotating medical students. Trainees are expected to stay until the last patient is seen and all notes and tasks are completed for that day to ensure all patient related matters are appropriately addressed. On top of this, they must dedicate time after hours to study diseases, medications and treatments that are encountered in the clinic. Despite the tough work and steep learning curve, it provides trainees an insight to being a medical student on rotations. I could not have made it this far without Dr. Kuohung.
I would like to leave my contact information for prospective trainees to reach out if they would like to know more about the fellowship and how it will prepare them for medical school. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
K. Nash - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2024
My transition, from the mentality of an undergraduate to that of a medical student was arduous and miserable. My commitment to the clinic and its patients took a heavy toll. Every day for my first four months as a premedical fellow, I considered quitting. The overwhelming torrent of knowledge paired with demanding clinic hours led me to reevaluate my professional aspirations and trajectory. Indeed, I arrived at the clinic each morning at 7:45 AM and did not leave until we documented and advised our last patient on their disease. Somedays, the clinic closed at 5:00 PM. Other days, the clinic did not end until well past 7:00 PM. And even after having left the clinic, my mind lingered there within. “Did I complete all my progress notes accurately?” “Did I move the TB blood to the Quest drop-box?” My second guessing was crippling at times, worsened still by my failure despite my enthusiastic endeavors. This transition, as difficult as it was, was important and formative. My acknowledgement of my inadequacies and failures is what I needed to inspire me to work harder. If it were not for this difficult transitional phase, I would not have had the humility and motivation to persist through the program, nor would I have been poised to begin medical school in the summer of 2020
Now, as a current M2 preparing to transition to the wards, I am grateful to have been a premedical fellow. In retrospect I realize that it was thanks to Dr. Kuohung that I learned how to take a patient history, a skill at the core of any diagnosis and essential to the practice of medicine. In the clinic, I remember using my developing medical reasoning skills to ask pertinent questions during the patient interview. For instance, I recall the algorithm I developed for interviewing patients who present with a scaly hypopigmented rash localized to their torso and upper extremity. I learned to ask such patients about their fitness habits since tinea versicolor, a differential diagnosis, is associated with athletes. A positive patient history that interrogated exercise habits could clinch this diagnosis (in addition to a positive KOH). A good history can therefore make or break a diagnosis which is why I am so lucky to have developed this skill early.
The core history taking and clinical reasoning skills I developed at the fellowship make me an effective and efficient thinker in the exam room. Recently, I used these very skills to help diagnose a case of lymphangitis, an infectious dermato-vascular process. An 84 Y/O woman presents to the clinic with 2-day history of acute pain, limited range of motion, and erythema affecting the left wrist, palm, and ventral forearm. She reports that symptoms began at the time of waking and denies overuse of the arm and hand. She does not recall sustaining any injury prior to the day of symptom onset. Initial pain was followed by swelling and erythema of the affected area 1 day after symptom onset. The erythema expanded in a linear fashion along the ventral aspect of her forearm. Her pain is 8/10. Her symptoms worsened progressively and include pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. The pain as sharp and radiating. She treated her symptoms with an OTC topical cream for arthritis but did not note improvement.
Based on visual examination of the lesion alone, the differential is quite extensive. It could be a stress fracture, lymphangitis, tenosynovitis, gout, or even rheumatoid arthritis. Details I collected in her history, however, make the likelihood for some conditions on the differential less likely. For example, the warm, linear, red, progressive streak up the ventral aspect of the forearm might favor an infectious process like lymphangitis. No history of wrist overuse or strain might make tenosynovitis less favorable. The unilateral distribution of disease might make rheumatoid arthritis less likely. Thus, the patient’s history helps to parameterize their condition and can therefore dramatically affect our medical evaluation and pretest-probabilities. While history taking is taught in medical school, learning when, how, or why some questions are to be asked takes advanced knowledge and plenty of experience which is why an early immersive premedical experience is invaluable. Dr. Kuohung prepared me to grapple with such cases by challenging me to enter the mindset of a physician whilst in the exam room during my tenure in the fellowship. It was early experiences through her program that trained me to be an insightful addition to the medical team as a second-year medical student and stand apart from my peers.
Through performing countless patient interviews, engaging with up to 26 progress notes daily, liaising with laboratories, pharmacies, clinics, insurance providers, IRBs, CROs, reviewing benign pathology with patients under MD supervision, and assisting during surgical procedures, I acquired the necessary experience to think critically about what it means to be a physician in the community. As a mentor, Dr. Kuohung has created several occasions for me to shadow, speak with, and learn from several physicians across myriad specialties. She is committed to seeing all her fellows achieve their dreams which is what sets her apart from other physicians having similar programs. Even for me as a graduate of the program, she continues to demonstrate her allyship by offering to connect me to her colleagues, key opinion leaders in their respective disciplines. Dr. Kuohung’s commitment to her fellows, both direct and indirect by way of this program, prepared me to be a competitive and informed medical school applicant, and an equipped medical student. The premedical fellowship offers the unique opportunity for the professional development of aspiring physicians through a condensed, thorough, fast-paced, and intensive curriculum. From venipuncture to collecting a patient’s history, there are several occasions for one-on-one patient interaction. Dissimilar to many pre-medical gap year programs, this fellowship focuses on developing the skills of its fellows for the cultivation of thoughtful and informed future physicians. Dr. Kuohung accomplishes this by encouraging her fellows to take on new and sometimes challenging tasks under her supervision. Fellows, as a result, quickly begin to comprehend then engage with the scientific, medical, and ethical facets of clinical encounters and decision making.
R. Chen - University of Massachusetts Medical School 2025
The Combined Dermatology and Clinical Research Fellowship was the most difficult job that I held during my premedical career. On my first day, I found myself awkwardly taking a patient’s medical history within ten minutes of showing up on site. Throughout the next few months, I felt a sense of hesitancy and uncertainty as I took on unfamiliar responsibilities in clinic. I found it particularly difficult to transition from a structured educational undergraduate environment to a fast-paced, hands-on clinical environment.
This program is very different from other premedical gap year positions. Unlike a 9:00 to 5:00 scribe position, this program allows its fellows to attain a comprehensive understanding of how our healthcare system works. From day one, I learned about the responsibilities of a physician working in a private practice. I took my patients’ history of present illness and participated in the assessment and plan portion of the visit. I also assisted in relevant medical and cosmetic procedures. Moreover, I was involved with administrative tasks, medical billing, clinic maintenance, and translational clinical research. As I mastered my clinical responsibilities, I started to pursue community service projects, devise systems based improvements, and eventually train the incoming junior class. Naturally, my multitude of responsibilities required a lot of time management and organization, and I often found myself working more than sixty hours a week.
Although challenging, I found my time in this fellowship to be extremely rewarding. Being responsible for over twenty patients a day taught me how to navigate sometimes difficult social situations and improve my interpersonal skills. During my medical school orientation, I volunteered to hold a conversation with a standardized patient, and my peers were impressed at how smooth our conversation went. Additionally, during a training session for intramuscular injections, I confidently injected saline via the Z track method into my partner’s arm given my familiarity with performing subcutaneous and intramuscular injections as a clinical research coordinator. The hands-on learning environment at the fellowship ultimately allowed me to develop a plethora of clinical skills which will help me later in my medical career. As an incoming medical student, I can confidently say that I have a better understanding of basic procedural skills, common medical interventions and their indications, and how the insurance system in the United States works.
I would attribute my success in this program to the mentorship of Dr. Kuohung as well as the support that I received from my seniors and peers. While it is true that I was held to extremely high standards during my time in the fellowship, I understood that everyone genuinely wanted to see me succeed. I will be forever grateful for my experience at this fellowship, and I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today in my medical school career without this program. This premedical fellowship is the perfect opportunity for students to gain the necessary experience to understand the daily responsibilities of a physician and excel in medical school.
O. Taweh - University of Massachusetts Medical School 2024
A physician trained in both law and in medicine, Dr. Kuohung helps activate her interns critical thinking skills from the medical, legal, and social justice perspectives. Having been granted a gradually increasing level of autonomy over the course of my time at the clinic, I was not only exposed to the thought processes used in medicine but, was also granted the opportunity to engage in them myself. Under the guidance of Dr. Kuohung, I learned how to do things I had not imagined I would have done until the end of my medical school career, if not until my residency.
All compliments aside however, this program pushed me far more than any other job, class, or internship had previously. As a result however, I will perform at a significantly higher caliber during medical school because I was held to high expectations. In my time here, I learned what true “tough love” from a mentor and boss looked like – one that held your hand at times, and at other times let you figure out how to swim on your own. I can confidently say that it is NOT for simply any pre-med; to survive and succeed, one must be motivated, dedicated, and extremely open to rebuilding their understanding of what a clinical internship would look like. All in all, this program will help you prepare to stand out amongst your peers both in the medical school application process, but also in the medical school classroom.
M. Lai - Manager, CRIO (Wesleyan College 2017)
The Combined Dermatology and Clinical Research Fellowship offers students a unique opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the multifaceted and complex world of medicine. While this program is challenging, I promise that it is also extremely rewarding.
In hindsight, the first four months of the fellowship are the toughest. In this short time, you are expected to master the fundamental skills and workflows that will allow you to succeed as both a medical assistant and a clinical research coordinator. Between meeting 20-25 patients a day in clinic, quarterbacking patient follow-up, reading up on new conditions or medications that I encountered, mastering study protocols, and completing study visits, it was easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities and the level of autonomy given to me. It was only after 6 months that I started to feel comfortable balancing all my duties and even then, this position remained challenging. As I progressed through the fellowship, Dr. Kuohung pushed me to take on new tasks, dive deeper into medical literature and think about the business, legal and scientific aspects of practicing medicine.
To speak more about the clinical research component of this program, fellows are engaged in all parts of study initiation and maintenance. I learned how to interpret complex study protocols, build source documents, carry out study visits, juggle the many demands of sponsors and CROs, and build rapport with trial patients. Managing clinical trials across a wide range of indications completely transformed my basic understanding of drug development. I also saw firsthand how clinical research plays a role in furthering medicine and how that can trickle down into everyday patient management.
As a mentor, Dr. Kuohung is an enthusiastic, passionate, and knowledgeable teacher. She works closely with each of her fellows, offering frequent and direct feedback. Although she can sometimes be tough, it is because she cares deeply about her fellows and is invested in their success. You can always count on Dr. Kuohung to advocate for her students when it comes to learning opportunities inside and outside of the program.
The premedical fellowship is the perfect opportunity for students to gain the necessary and diverse experiences to excel in and beyond medical school. It is by far the most difficult position I have had, but it is also what pushed me to grow personally and professionally. While I ultimately decided to pursue a different career path, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am now without this program and Dr. Kuohung’s continued support. In fact, it is because of my work as a fellow that I was able to reach my current position as a Customer Success Manager at CRIO. I will always be grateful for what I learned and the relationships I gained here.
N. Mastacouris - Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine 2023
In regards to the clinical research component of the program, I was fortunate to have Dr. Kuohung as a mentor because she allowed me to take on additional responsibilities in clinical trials of interest. Working in this environment not only taught me the basics of explaining informed consents and study protocols, but also helped me learn how to effectively navigate challenging real life scenarios such as communicating with patients who experienced adverse reactions to study therapies. In addition, the program helped me learn how to effectively collaborate with my colleagues to complete tasks in an efficient manner, which is an essential skill that is constantly emphasized in medical school.
Overall, I would consider my experiences to be very positive. Interacting with Dr. Kuohung’s patients and their families allowed me to grow as a professional and served as my primary motivation to pursue medical school. I would recommend Dr. Kuohung’s program to any pre-medical student who is passionate, eager to learn, and work hard. Although the journey to medical school can be challenging, Dr. Kuohung and her team are incredibly resourceful and will help you every step of the way.
M. Nguyen - Tufts University School of Medicine 2023
The program allowed me the freedom to have more responsibilities than most other roles all while providing the necessary guidance when encountering different types of situations. By interacting with a diverse patient population, I was able to hone in on not only clinical procedural skills, but also learned how to navigate sometimes awkward situations, a necessary attribute I will need in the future working in the medical field.
I enjoyed working with Dr. Kuohung and the staff because of how supportive they were and how much teamwork was emphasized. I will carry these vital skills with me forward in the medical field as a future clinician.
Current and Past Participants
Cornell University 2021
Columbia University 2020
University of Massachusetts Medical School 2025
University of Massachusetts Medical School 2024
Drexel University College of Medicine 2022
Wesleyan College 2017
Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine 2023
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2024
Tufts University School of Medicine 2023
MCPHS Physician Assistant Program 2020
Dermatology Clinical Internship
This is an abbreviated version of the full fellowship experience only available under certain circumstances.
Cornell University 2020
Hongyi (Haniu) Ren
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine 2025
Cornell University 2020
* Dermatology Summer Internship: This is available only to those already accepted to medical school. A minimum of nearly three months’ full time engagement is required. This is an excellent entrée into dermatology for those who are seriously considering the specialty.
Richard Gusberg MD
Premedical Fellowship Admissions Consultant
Richard Gusberg MD is an Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and Executive Director of Mentor X, a consulting business that provides career counseling and longitudinal mentoring for high school and college students interested in applying to medical school. While on the faculty at the Yale School of Medicine, he was on the medical school Admissions Committee and led both teaching and mentoring programs for the Department of Surgery. Dr. Gusberg is a resource for the premedical fellowship, providing an insider’s look into the medical school admissions process.
Dr. Gusberg and his wife, an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Yale, live on a farm in Connecticut with two dogs, two donkeys, three goats, and six chickens. They have five children and three grandchildren. When not doing farm work, keeping track of the comings and goings of his kids and grandkids, or working with MentorX clients and the students in the Yale Simulation Academy, Dr. Gusberg enjoys painting watercolors, biking, fishing, kayaking, and trying (with mixed results) to teach himself blues piano.
Dr. Gusberg also welcomes inquiries from other pre-medical students who seek assistance with their applications in this incredibly competitive environment.