Navigating Your Career

Ask the Expert with Dr. Joshua Zeichner – Q&A Recap

Next Steps readers had the opportunity to ask Dr. Joshua Zeichner questions on a variety of topics ranging from becoming a sought after media expert to delegating services to mid-level providers. See all his insightful answers below. 

1) How did you build your press empire? Pretty much every article I come across in the consumer press has a quote, commentary, expert opinion from you. Any advice on how to become sought after by the press? 

I am very fortunate to have become a trusted source for the media. It has taken a decade of hard work and relationship building to get to the point that I am at right now. I am passionate about public education and enjoy the opportunities to work with the press. My best advice for anyone interested in working with the media is to develop clear and concise messages and respond to reporters as quickly as possible. They often are on deadline and they will continue to come to you if they know you are a reliable source.  I actually teach the media course for the American Academy of Dermatology at the Annual Meeting and encourage anyone interested in media to take it.

2) How do you manage your social media accounts? Do you post content yourself or delegate this task to someone else? What are the top 5 tips you can share with residents/young dermatologists on getting started sharing content on social media?

I manage my own social media accounts, although I know that many practices have someone designated to do this. When you put together your account, it is important to choose the type of narrative you want to deliver. For some practices it is strictly related to the practice, but for others, there may be more personal aspects.  I don’t have five tips, but rather just to be true to who you are, and it will come across in your posts.

3) I follow your Instagram account and always wonder what atypical day in your life looks like. How do you find the time to do it all and fulfil the roles of Dermatologist, Dad, Husband, Author, etc.? Please share your secret!

My typical day starts and ends with family. The kids usually get up in the 6 o’clock hour, and my wife and I get them ready for school. I live close to the office, so I actually walk to work every day. I work five days a week and usually see around 40 patients per day, with a mix of medical and cosmetic patients. I dedicate one afternoon per week for surgeries, where I do simple excisions. I usually get home around 6:30 PM and help the kids out with homework. After they go to bed, I can start my own work, be it articles, interviews, emails, or lecture preparation. I spend more time than I would like to admit dictating emails onto my phone. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done and I will forever be behind in responding to emails.

4) How do you approach conferences and networking? With so many offerings out there, I find it hard to pick and choose which conferences to attend and/or lecture at. What criteria do you use for selecting conferences to attend for personal education vs. speaking opportunities? I’m an early career dermatologist and would appreciate your advice. 

I go to the American Academy of Dermatology Annual and Summer Meetings when they are in New York. I also go to the Fall and Winter Clinical dermatology meetings. I usually am lecturing at the meetings that I attend. My advice for younger dermatologists is to use the meetings as networking opportunities. Stop by the booths and speak to the people working there and discuss your interests. Meeting are also a great time to catch up with colleagues across the country. I look at them as reunions with my dermatology friends from across the country.

5) I’m currently in my last year of residency and thinking about what I’ll do next. As someone running your own practice, do you find it hard to balance a private practice setting with an academic appointment?  I have heard from a past mentor that private practice and academics should not mix but I see many successful dermatologists going this route. What would you say are the top 3 (or more) things to keep in mind before choosing this path?    

I am actually full-time in an academic practice. My practice runs very much like a private practice with patients who have private insurance, however, the practice is owned and managed by an academic center. We have residents and medical students that work with us along with active clinical research. Every academic center works differently, so it’s important to understand the structure of the particular practice. If full time academics is not for you, there often are voluntary positions available where are you interact with residents anywhere from once per week to once per month. Especially in an environment of venture capital, solo private practice is much less common than it used to be. So, whether you are working in an academic center or for a conglomerate practice, you likely will be working for some sort of institution.

6) I’m a dermatologist from Kuwait and have 2 questions for you:

a)What’s the maximum recommended duration of tetracycline use for moderate acne?

Generally speaking, I’d like to get patients off of oral antibiotics after three or four months. However, there are some special circumstances where other medications may be contraindicated, and I have patients on oral antibiotics for longer periods of time.

b)Regarding the use of ablative lasers post treatment of isotretinoin, are the current guidelines to wait 6 months after stopping treatment or are there any new recommendations?

There is mounting data showing that resurfacing lasers can be performed as early as one month after discontinuing isotretinoin.

7) It is my understanding that you serve on several Scientific Advisory Boards for pharmaceutical companies. As a young dermatologist profoundly interested in research, I would love to know if you have any tips on how to be “discovered” by pharma companies. Do you have any do’s and don’ts you can share with me?

I am fortunate to have had some great mentors who helped open doors for me many years ago. It is also important to lecture and publish on topics that you are interested in. Pharmaceutical companies will start to take notice if you continue to concentrate in a particular field.

8) I’m in my 4th year of practice and not active on social media. With a recent explosion of Instagram derm “influencers”, I get a lot of comments from new patients who question why I’m not on social media. I honestly don’t have the time to create meaningful content to share online and somehow bothers me that social media presence has become a way of validating a physician’s reputation. What are your thoughts on this? 

Social media is not for everyone. It does give you a platform to express yourself and the goals of the practice. In fact, it can be a very powerful marketing tool. Be careful about what you put up on social media and choose your posts carefully because they give the first impression of you and your practice to the public. I do think that an online presence is an important part of building a practice in the digital age that we are living in.

9) There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the increased delegation of services to mid-level providers (i.e. Nurse Practitioners, Physician’s Assistants, etc.). As someone who runs his own practice, what are your thoughts on this topic? What type of services do you feel comfortable delegating to mid-level providers?

The choice to incorporate mid-levels into your practice depends on your personal preferences, the structure of the office, and how busy you are. If you do decide to hire practitioners like physicians’ assistants, it is important to take responsibility to properly train them according to your own standards. Mid-levels can play a variety of roles in the practice ranging from medical to cosmetic procedures. So long as mid-level practitioners are properly trained and supervised, I think they can add a lot to a practice.