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Top 5 Pearls and Expert Insights From the 2024 SDPA Summer Conference


Review our coverage and expert interviews from the recent Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants' annual summer meeting.

The 2024 Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) Annual Summer Dermatology Conference recently concluded this past weekend after several eventful days of expert lectures.

Dermatology Times was on site in San Diego, California, conducting interviews with leading dermatologists and physician assistants (PAs) and gathering pearls from poster presentations and late-breaking abstracts.

Below, we recap 5 of the top pearls and insights emerging from the meeting.

1. Reframing perceptions of patient beauty

Rick Guidotti, a renowned fashion photographer, was inspired by a chance encounter in 1997 to redefine beauty and advocate for diversity. This led him to found Positive Exposure, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting inclusivity through photography, film, and educational programs. Guidotti’s work focuses on celebrating the beauty of individuals with genetic, physical, behavioral, or intellectual differences, including those with dermatological disorders.

Guidotti recounted a significant experience where he helped a young girl with albinism see her own beauty. His approach has since expanded to working with hospitals and clinics to support children with visible conditions, encouraging them to embrace their uniqueness.

View our interview with Guidotti here.

2. The evolution of the dermatology PA

Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, a seasoned dermatology PA with 20 years of experience, shared her insights on key issues in dermatology. Transitioning from Chicago to Munster, Indiana, Block now treats many underserved patients, emphasizing the need for comprehensive education on chronic dermatological conditions like hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), eczema, and psoriasis that have often been inadequately diagnosed or treated in these communities.

Block highlighted the importance of self-advocacy for PAs, especially when negotiating new practice roles, and stressed the value of understanding and asserting one's worth to make a meaningful impact on both the practice and patient care. Block also reflected on the evolution of her profession, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and collaboration with medical doctors and mentors in providing quality patient care.

View our interview with Block here.

3. Making the most of social media and optimization

Luke Maxfield, DO, emphasized the importance of being educated on social media trends and misinformation, a topic he explored alongside co-presenter Muneeb Shah, DO. Maxfield highlighted the need for dermatologists to understand the information their patients are exposed to online and to engage in meaningful conversations about these trends. He advocates asking patients why specific social media trends appeal to them, using this as a gateway to discuss both the benefits and limitations of these popular but often misunderstood treatments.

Maxfield provided examples like rosemary oil and tea tree oil to illustrate how discussing well-known natural remedies can help bridge the gap between patients' preconceived notions and evidence-based treatments.

View our interview with Maxfield here.

4. Emerging therapies and comprehensive care

Jennifer Hsiao, MD, highlighted the promising developments in HS treatment. She expressed excitement over the increasing treatment options and ongoing research, noting the progress is long overdue. Hsiao reviewed both current and emerging treatments, including the biologic adalimumab (Humira) approved in 2015 and the more recent approval of secukinumab (Cosentyx) in 2023 for moderate to severe HS. Additionally, she mentioned other IL-17 inhibitors like bimekizumab, which are expected to receive FDA approval soon, along with JAK inhibitors like povorcitinib and upadacitinib that are in advanced trial stages.

View our interview with Hsiao here.

5. Embracing the future

In an exclusive interview with Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, and current SDPA President Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, Bush, shared insights from her presidency and reflected on her accomplishments. She expressed pride in pushing herself beyond her comfort zone and successfully leading the organization, despite initial expectations. Bush highlighted the importance of teamwork and mentorship, particularly through the Emerging Scholars Program aimed at supporting new dermatology PAs.

View our interview with Block and Bush here.

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