Combined Dermatology and Clinical Research
Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Fellowship
A two-year premedical clinical training program
B. D’Amore - Resident, Massachusetts General Hospital Interventional Radiology Integrated Residency
I trained under Dr. Kuohung in her premedical fellowship and am now a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in the integrated diagnostic/interventional radiology program. I would not have made it this far without Dr. Kuohung. She took me under her wing and well-prepared me for medical school and a career in medicine. Her training became undoubtedly evident when I was on my clinical rotations as a medical student. Dr. Kuohung taught me to engage with patients, gather a detailed history and physical, present cases to attendings, write comprehensive notes and more. She made sure I was always prepared when seeing patients by knowing their entire clinical histories and treatment plans. She even taught me to draw blood, throw sutures, and first assist her in skin cancer surgeries, all of which laid the foundation for future years of training in interventional radiology. I excelled as a medical student on my clinical rotations and received honors for nearly all grades because of her training. On one of my evaluations, my attendings commented: “Exceptionally well prepared with pre-reading and knowledge of his patients. Impressed several of us with his procedural skills. Above and beyond peers for his level of training.”
Not only was this experience valuable working with patients, but it also taught me about clinical research and clinical trials through Clinical Research IO (CRIO). CRIO is a tablet application that captures clinical trial data during patient visits, which is referred to as eSource. I worked with CRIO as one of her fellows and then remotely for all four years of medical school, first as a study designer and then was promoted to quality control. I’ve worked with over 50 study protocols all for different drugs and indications. This was 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 hope to work with clinical trials in the future and will rely on all my experiences and knowledge gained from Dr. Kuohung and CRIO.
To this day, Dr. Kuohung is the best mentor I’ve had in my career. Even though I graduated from her program, she still takes a genuine interest in my life. Knowing how busy she is between her clinical work and four children, it says a lot about her character that she stays in close contact with all her past fellows and tries to help in any way she can. For example, she connected me with attendings at Mass General where I worked on several projects that were accepted as abstracts to major international meetings.
While I can promise that her trainees will be excellent future medical students, going through her program is challenging work. She treated us as she would rotating medical students. We were expected to stay until the last patient was seen and all notes and tasks were completed for that day to ensure all patient related matters were appropriately addressed. On top of this, we were expected to dedicate time after hours to study diseases, medications and treatments that were encountered in the clinic. Despite the tough work and steep learning curve, it was the most valuable experience I could have undergone. 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 and a career in medicine. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
N. Mastacouris - Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine 2023
The premedical clinical training fellowship is an immersive and comprehensive experience that provides extensive exposure to dermatology and pharmaceutical clinical trials for pre-medical students. Under the guidance of Dr. Kuohung, I had the opportunity to learn fundamental clinical skills that have proved to be tremendously valuable throughout medical school, including taking a detailed medical history, delivering a concise patient presentation, writing a visit note, taking vitals, and assisting in various in-office surgical procedures. The program also provides exposure to the administrative side of running a medical practice, which involves scheduling patients appropriately, communicating biopsy results and completing prior authorizations. As a current third year medical student nearing the end of my junior clerkship rotations, I can confidently say that Dr. Kuohung’s program has been essential to my success in the clinical setting. By having a solid grasp of fundamental clinical skills as a pre-medical student, I was poised to hit the ground running in my clerkship experiences. For example, instead of focusing the majority of my efforts on the basics of presenting and note writing, I am able to devote the majority of my attention to creating detailed treatment plans for patients— a highly valued skill on the wards.
The clinical research component of the program is also highly beneficial because fellows gain an understanding of informed consent, study protocols, and data entry/ integrity. In this setting, I also learned how to navigate challenging clinical scenarios such as communicating with patients who experienced adverse reactions to study therapies. In retrospect, these experiences have been highly transferable to patient encounters on the wards as well as graded standardized patient exercises.
In addition, Dr. Kuohung’s program provides the opportunity to gain experience in the healthcare technology sector as an electronic data source study designer at Clinical Research IO (CRIO). This role allowed me to expand my clinical knowledge as I had to understand pharmaceutical products and protocol design in order to effectively create electronic source workflows. Because of my interest in healthcare technology and innovation, I was offered additional responsibility and even had the opportunity to represent CRIO at an international research summit. Through my connection with Dr. Kuohung, I have been able to continue working with CRIO as a medical student and am currently involved in designing a company sponsored study examining the accuracy of electronic health records.
In summary, Dr. Kuohung’s premedical fellowship has been invaluable to my success in medical school thus far. I would highly recommend this 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 prepare you for success in your future medical training. Despite completing the program in 2017, I would still consider Dr. Kuohung to be one of my biggest supporters. She has always offered excellent advice and genuinely cares about my career trajectory.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the fellowship, please don’t hesitate to contact me: email@example.com.
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.
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
Stonehill College 2022
Yale College 2022
University of Pittsburgh 2022
Cornell University 2021
Columbia University 2020
University of Massachusetts Medical School 2025
University of Massachusetts Medical School 2024
Resident, Massachusetts General Hospital Interventional Radiology Integrated Residency
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.
Zachary Gross MD
Premedical Fellowship Counselor
Dr. Gross is a former Junior A hockey player whose original career aim was to play professionally. An injury ended his hockey dreams and he realized then he wanted to go to medical school. With previously poor grades, however, he decided he would work as hard as he possibly could to become a physician. He subsequently graduated magna cum laude from Curry College.
After graduating, he scored poorly on his first MCAT and then spent six months in clinical research on thyroid cancer while deciding what his next steps would be. He interviewed at Ross University School of Medicine but then heard nothing for months. He was finally admitted after calling weekly to get updates, telling them that they would not regret accepting him. After graduating, he spent a year to do research in multiple myeloma, resulting in first authorship on a paper in a major hematology/oncology journal.
Dr. Gross matched into an internal medicine residency at Florida State University College of Medicine where he received the 2019 primary care award. He is now a board-certified internist with the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Through his experience overcoming tremendous odds to becoming a physician, Dr. Gross is intimately aware of the challenges nontraditional students face in medicine. He himself had to overcome the hurdle of low grades and poor test scores to even first get accepted to college. Because of his background, Dr. Gross personally knows the importance of sheer determination throughout the medical school process. He thus assists the premedical fellows as a counselor on how to manage a stressful clinic. Dr Gross serves as a sounding board to help them develop the grit needed to succeed in their medical school applications, and provides feedback on how to be efficient in clinic, skills that help people gain an advantage in medical school.