Jeff De La Rosa 2017-06-09 01:11:49
Dermatology is constantly changing, and technology is providing new ways for dermatologists to stay abreast of advances in the specialty. Yet one of the most powerful tools for the development of dermatology remains one of medicine’s oldest: the relationship between mentor and student. Mentors are in a unique position to provide targeted instruction, tailored to the needs of the individual. They have a store of wisdom that can help guide younger colleagues through formative stages, helping others to envision a successful career in dermatology. Overall, the steady hand of a mentor can serve as a grounding influence in uncertain times. There are some things a mentor can impart that cannot be learned in any textbook, and chief among them is generosity. A great mentor can engender in students a desire to give back, help others, and to move the specialty forward as a whole. And as the students themselves become mentors, the benefits of generosity multiply and spread. Here are three profiles of members of the American Academy of Dermatology whose careers have put them at the heart of mentoring. Individually, their stories illustrate the power of mentors to improve careers, change lives, and inspire giving. Taken together, they show how the threads of mentoring — which pass from mentor to student, to student again — run throughout the Academy and the profession, and serve to strengthen dermatology as a whole. Harley Haynes, MD Harley Haynes, MD, has a deep appreciation for the power of mentoring. As the 2016 recipient of the AAD’s Everett C. Fox Memorial Lectureship, Dr. Haynes spoke movingly of the influence that mentors have had on his own career. During the talk, Dr. Haynes related a story from his childhood. At the age of 15, he had been tasked with washing the family car. He scrubbed and scrubbed until the vehicle shone. Upon inspecting his work, his father flatly noted that he had neglected the hubcaps. “Of course, I was devastated,” Dr. Haynes chuckles these years later, “but it taught me a valuable lesson — that details are important.” Dr. Haynes now practices at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and teaches at Harvard Medical School. For decades, he has served as the director of clinical clerkship in dermatology for third- and fourth-year students. The role has afforded him ample opportunity to serve as a mentor himself. To Dr. Haynes, mentoring students at such a formative stage is about much more than simply passing on knowledge. “Often times younger people can have these crises that come up. Problems that might seem fairly small later in a career can seem kind of big early on.” It is a role that calls for listening, and sometimes helping the students see beyond their immediate desires. “I remember one student who had performed well in medical school and wanted to specialize in dermatology. After a brief clerkship, however, it became apparent that she was struggling to make the fine visual analyses so important in our specialty. I asked which of her rotations she loved and felt the most comfortable with. She said ‘pediatrics.’ I told her maybe she should not fight it. It was a tough conversation, but she later thanked me after being matched with a pediatrics program.” Dr. Haynes (left) and Paul Nghiem, MD, on the occasion of Dr. Nghiem giving the 6th annual Harley A. Haynes lectureship. “We first met when he took the dermatology clinical elective as a medical student,” Dr. Haynes said. “He then became fascinated with dermatology, joined the Harvard Combined Residency Program, became a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and is now Professor and Head, Dermatology Division, University of Washington. A wonderful example of successful mentorship and friendship.” The mentorship of Dr. Haynes’s father, also a dermatologist, played an important role in getting him involved with the AAD. “My mother and father brought me to the very first meeting of the AAD in 1938, at age 11 months. They did not have any fancy baby carriers back then. They carried me around Chicago’s Palmer House hotel in a laundry basket. “The AAD was so important in my dad’s life. He always attended meetings, and he always learned from them. The Academy was just starting to provide continuing education. There was not anything like it at the time, and there were no requirements for continuing education. I think it is so cool that a bunch of dermatologists just got together and decided that we ought to have an organization that helps us stay current and get better at what we do.” Dr. Haynes’s enthusiasm for the Academy and its work resonates with the students he mentors. “I always wear my AAD pins, and sometimes people will ask about them. Medical students do not have a lot of money — most of them are in debt — but they are interested in giving back.” Dr. Haynes notes that students often get involved with the AAD through volunteering, perhaps in programs that provide care to the homeless or other underserved populations. As they become established in their careers, they are able to become financial participants in the Academy. “One sort of generosity kind of leads to another.” Orit Markowitz, MD To dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD, mentoring is not only a means of helping others — it also provides an opportunity to improve herself. “If you have to teach something,” she observes, “in the process you become better at it.” Dr. Markowitz is an assistant professor at the Icahn Medical School at Mount Sinai in New York City. She divides her time between teaching and seeing patients, both at the hospital and its downstate affiliates. Her work affords many opportunities for mentoring, both for her students and for two full-time fellows in the imaging fellowship she directs. Finding time to mentor can be a challenge in the hectic, patient-filled environment of a busy Manhattan hospital system. “At the beginning of each rotation, I try to ask my residents what they hope to get out of their experience,” Dr. Markowitz explains. “On a busy day, it can be hard to meet those expectations.” Her work with her fellows allows her a more relaxed, student-focused environment. Daniel Siegel, MD, MS, and Orit Markowitz, MD Despite the challenges, Dr. Markowitz considers mentoring to be a critical element of her work. “Mentoring is important in every field, but especially in medicine,” she observes. “Medicine is constantly changing. If you do not have mentors to help you keep up with those changes, you are really missing out.” Even as an established dermatologist, Dr. Markowitz relies on mentors to continue developing her own career and moving the specialty forward. “I do not think I could do what I do without mentoring,” she notes. Among her current mentors, she cites former AAD president Daniel Siegel, MD, MS, with whom she works as a co-principal investigator. “Every week, I learn something new from him.” Dr. Markowitz sees the American Academy of Dermatology as a great engine for establishing and supporting mentoring relationships. “Many of the dermatologists most actively involved with the Academy are also those most actively engaged in mentoring.” The AAD also fosters and supports mentoring through a number of programs supported by member donations. For Dr. Markowitz, getting her students involved in the Academy is a natural part of the mentoring process. “My fellows and residents are often involved in things I am doing with the Academy.” They attend meetings, assist with presentations, and participate in focus sessions. For many, it is the beginning of a successful career and a lifelong relationship with the Academy. “I think that when you become actively involved with the AAD, and you are giving back to the specialty, you become a role model. For the people you mentor, following in your footsteps includes getting involved and giving back.” William James, MD William James, MD, is impressed by the power of small acts of mentoring to transform careers and lives. Since 1987, Dr. James has served as the residency director at the University of Pennsylvania. In that role, he has mentored more than 100 residents and fellows. “They are in a place in their careers where they are just learning how to be a dermatologist,” Dr. James observes. “They have a lot of choices ahead of them.” William James, MD (center) with past fellows Tayo Ogunleye, MD (left), and Lisa Pappas-Taffer, MD (right). It is Dr. James’s job not only to ease their introduction into the specialty but also to help guide them through tough choices. Working with students for several years at such a key time in their lives provides unique opportunities for long-term mentoring. Yet he finds that it is often the momentary interventions that can have an outsize effect. “Sometimes even small pieces of information or encouragement at the right time will have a big impact.” Dr. James recalls mentoring a dermatologist who wanted to switch subspecialties after beginning an academic career. His guidance gave her the confidence to follow her dreams and move across the country to take a new fellowship. For Dr. James, the key to mentoring is caring. “You have got to care about the person that you are trying to help,” he advises. “Listen intently to who they are, where they want to go, and why they want to go there. Then you can help them.” It was as a resident himself when Dr. James met a man who would become his own lifelong mentor, the chief of the residency program, Richard Odom, MD. “He helped me to envision what a successful academic career could look like,” says Dr. James. It was the start of a lifelong friendship, and it would eventually lead to the two dermatologists writing a textbook together. Dr. Odom also got Dr. James involved in the American Academy of Dermatology, introducing him to friends in the Academy and helping to get his first committee appointment. “Richard’s work with the Academy was an inspiration,” Dr. James recalls. “Seeing what he was able to accomplish and help others accomplish made me want to get involved.” Dr. James has likewise helped those he mentors to become involved in the Academy through introductions and recommendations. To Dr. James, facilitating such personal connections is an important and under-recognized part of mentoring. “I think the value of connecting people cannot be overstated. It really helps propel people along in the pursuit of their goals.” Dr. James sees fostering involvement with the Academy as a way to both give back to the specialty, and at the same time, help the people he mentors to succeed. “As individual dermatologists succeed,” he adds, “the specialty gets stronger as a whole.”
Published by American Academy Of Dermatology. View All Articles.