Before you can really understand what drives me to be a dermatologist, you have to understand what makes me tick. And part of what makes me tick happened when I was nine.
I grew up on a lake and one day was walking to see a friend. It was cold outside and I was wearing mittens—the kind that kids wear, the kind that make it impossible to really hold onto something because not only were four of my five fingers on each hand together in one part of the mitten, but when they got wet they had absolutely no gripping ability whatsoever.
On my way to see my friend, I noticed a man with a sledge hammer. He was hitting the ice and that piqued my interest—so I decided to walk toward him to get a closer look.
Then the ice broke, and I fell through.
I’d have drowned had he not pulled me out.
I’m wired in a way that that experience—almost drowning—drove me to want to prevent that from happening to anyone else. So I went through water safety instructions and taught swimming lessons, so I could, somehow, prevent someone else from almost drowning.
Then, as a teenager, I was a lifeguard for six years. And being a lifeguard means that you’re in the sun all the time. So I tanned all the time—and by that I mean that I spent all day in the sun without any protection except for zinc oxide on my nose. There were no umbrellas, nothing to shield me from the sun.
And I’ll admit that I loved being in the sun. I loved being tan. I loved the warmth I felt when the sun hit my skin. I am, for all intents and purposes, a recovery sun addict.
Later in high school, I felt that something just wasn’t right. I didn’t know what it was, but it was a feeling I just couldn’t shake. So I went to the mall and had a skin cancer screening. Thankfully, it was fine and I was—and am—healthy.
But even then, I knew instinctively that getting that much sun just wasn’t healthy. That’s part of what inspired me to pursue medicine, particularly dermatology.
Another driving factor is my genuine interest in others. I’m a people person. I like to see people, I like to help however I can. I’m curious, so I love to learn, and I also like to teach. I’m an early adapter and I embrace technology because it can help us live a happier, healthier life. I also respect tradition and I’m not willing to hop right on a new treatment plan if it doesn’t have a proven track record. Most importantly, I think, is that I know when it’s good to try something new and when it’s best to stick with the tried-and-true. And I’m not afraid to explain to my patients exactly why I think what I think.
Dermatology suits me well—it’s fast-paced, I get to interact with people of all ages, and there’s always something new to learn. Even after 20 years of practice, I’m still hungry for new information and being able to distill what I know to my patients so they can be healthier is really what I was meant to do. I know that in my gut.
Wishing you better skin for a better life®.