What have your patients taught you?

January 1, 2006

During the course of developing articles for Dermatology Times, we see a lot of information on what dermatologists and dermatology students are learning in academia, from each other and from the greater scientific and medical communities.

During the course of developing articles for Dermatology Times, we see a lot of information on what dermatologists and dermatology students are learning in academia, from each other and from the greater scientific and medical communities.

Clearly, dermatologists learn much from what academia and medical science provide. But they also learn perhaps some of their most important lessons from a less technical, academic medical source: their patients.

For our inaugural Q&A column, which will appear quarterly covering various topics, Senior Editor Karen Donley-Hayes asked dermatologists a simple question: What have your patients taught you?

"We are a privileged few, we dermatologists...able to balance careers we love with family and fun. No more standing in line at the cafeteria, falling asleep with tray in hand, only to be woken as it comes crashing down with the words 'scrambled eggs for the intern'! Remember that and learn patience - you'll thank your patients!"

- Glynis Ablon, M.D., assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of Ablon Skin Institute.

- Patricia Farris, M.D., clinical assistant professor, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, and private practitioner.

A: "Since I frequently need to evaluate the role of occupational contactants in allergic dermatitis, I learn much about my patients' work lives. I ask them to tell me everything that contacts their skin during the day. I learn all sorts of fascinating things about industrial processes. People are very creative in terms of how they approach a task such as clean-up at work, and will often mention surprising uses for everyday cleaning and personal care products. There are always new products on the market and new industrial technologies, and I learn them by taking detailed patient histories."

- Susan Nedorost, M.D., director of the Contact Dermatitis Clinic and assistant professor of dermatology, University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University.