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Physician's Profile: Trailblazing derm promotes volunteerism, making a difference


Dermatologist Suzanne M. Connolly, M.D., thrives on the opportunity to join forces with others to make differences in people's lives.

Dr. Connolly is a trailblazer, happy to take others along for the ride. In Dr. Connolly's medical school class in 1975, only 10 percent of her classmates were female. In 1979, she was the first female dermatologist on staff in the department of dermatology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Today, among other things, Dr. Connolly is the 2008-09 president of the Women's Dermatologic Society (WDS).

Making inroads

Dr. Connolly has been a staunch supporter of the 1,500-member WDS, serving as the group's secretary-treasurer, service chairman, vice president and president.

She's passionate about WDS and its mission to serve, she says, because of the society's spirit of collegiality, collaboration and cooperation.

"It is a mentoring group, and I have learned so much from the individuals involved," Dr. Connolly tells Dermatology Times.

Community outreach

The program also has provided members with tools they need to set up an educational sun safety activity at sporting and other local events, and its success depends upon working together.

"Developing and participating in 'Families Play Safe in the Sun' requires WDS member participation, which is wonderful. And that is the great thing about dermatology," Dr. Connolly says.

While 15 percent of the WDS membership currently participates in community outreach activities, Dr. Connolly is on a mission during her presidency to encourage more volunteerism among fellow dermatologists.

"I've learned a great deal through the 'Families Play Safe in the Sun' project, going out there and interacting with the public - just catching people while they are out there having fun as a family," she says.


As one of Mayo Clinic's medical dermatologists, Dr. Connolly has honed her skills treating patients with a spectrum of conditions, including connective tissue conditions, sclerosing syndromes, cutaneous lymphomas, allergic contact dermatitis, skin cancers (melanoma and nonmelanoma) - and much more.

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