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A Positive Outlook With Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA


Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, talks to Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, about her SDPA presidency, the future, and the importance of a positive outlook.

What does an astronaut, a cancer survivor, a physician assistant, and the president of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) have in common?

The answer became very clear as Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, spoke with Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, the current SDPA president. Bush, who is a practicing PA at Fayette Area Dermatology, in Georgia. Block is no stranger to the role, having served as a past president of the SDPA; she is also a board-certified physician assistant at SKIN Dermatology in Munster, Indiana, and serves on the editorial board of Dermatology Times. The 2 PAs chatted about the presidency role and Bush’s favorite aspects of the 2024 SDPA Annual Summer Dermatology Conference in San Diego, California.

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C: What did you learn during your presidency? What surprised you?

Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA: I learned that you set out to do one thing, and it doesn't necessarily happen that way. But that's okay. It's just different.

So for instance, I set out to build a skyscraper. And I really just built the parking garage and the foundation. But that's okay, too, because the future leaders that follow me will build a floor and pretty soon we will have the skyscraper for the SDPA.

Block: I disagree, because I have been following you throughout the year and I really think you've built a small city. You have done an amazing job as president. What is the one thing that you are most proud of?

Bush: would say, I'm proud that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and did things that I didn't think was possible. Like, I didn't think I could get up in front of everyone and speak. I didn't think that I could write like I did. I didn't think that I could pull people together to work together as a team. And those are things that we accomplished this year. I pushed myself beyond where I thought was possible, and succeeded.

And I'm also proud that I was able to maintain my house and my family through all that as well.

Block: What is the one thing that you are most excited about this conference—because this is your last conference as a SDPA president?

Bush: The SDPA has worked out the value of mentorship for our new younger derm PAs. We all know that we go to PA school, we learn what they tell us, and then come out and we get our first job. And we need some training because we learned our school stuff, but we need to learn how to function in clinic.

So I think that’s our Emerging Scholars Program. It was meant to be a mentoring type program.

We got wonderful feedback yesterday—that people learned a lot. They were excited that they were in a room… We're going to follow those emerging scholars and see where they end up and I just think they can become the mentors to the next generation.

Also, in the same day, we had a pre-conference cosmetics course. And I thought, ‘Oh, the mentorship is my favorite.’ And then I went to the to the cosmetics lecture and it was super exciting.

Dr Silperstein knocked it out of the park! We did a cadaver lab and it was amazing. And everybody was glued to look watching what she did. She was just such an incredible teacher. So I think both events I'm super excited about and I think we knocked them out of the park.

I want to add one more thing. Having a PA [Hayley Arceneaux, PA-C] who went to space also was a highlight. And the fact that she was so inspirational and spoke my language—that a PA can do anything. They just have to say yes and step up. Was just knocked it out of the park. So I hope everybody else enjoyed it as much as I did.

I read her book, and it was so touching. I will say there were not many dry eyes in the room when she was speaking.

And we both had sort of a similar message: the future is unknown, and it's full of possibilities. But that's the exciting thing about life and the exciting thing about being a PA so if somebody asks you Do you want to do something? Sometimes you just have to say yes, and go with it.

Block: Right? Even if you're uncomfortable, you have to be able to push yourself; there's always hope. And that was the message that she conveyed. And it was so inspirational. So thank you so much Laura!

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