> Becoming a Thought Leader

Spotlight On: Beth McLellan, MD

1. Why did you choose a career in dermatology?

My stepfather worked for a pharmaceutical company that made dermatologic products. I went to my first AAD when I was in middle school, so that definitely planted the seed. During medical school, I loved how dermatologists got to be detectives and figure out complex cases that other specialties were stumped on. During my internship, I fell in love with oncology and taking care of sick patients, and I then decided to specialize in treating skin disease in cancer patients.

2. What are the most important character traits or qualities for a person in dermatology to possess?

A dermatologist must be sensitive and caring as patients with skin disease can have tremendous emotional and psychological sequelae of their disease. Sometimes we cannot cure the disease, but we can still heal the patient.

3. What can medical students do in their 1st and 2nd years to explore and prepare for a career in dermatology?

Shadow a dermatologist to get a feel for what a day is like for a dermatologist. Work on a few simple case reports or research projects. Attend dermatology grand rounds and resident lectures when your schedule allows. Get to know the residents and attendings in the department. Study hard!

4. What mistakes/difficulties do you see residents making and how can they avoid them?

It can be tempting to try and see fewer patients and get out of clinics in order to spend time studying books, but residents should view every patient encounter as an opportunity to learn. Three years is so short to learn all there is in dermatology – embrace the learning – both from the books and from the patients. You’ll miss it when it is over!

5. What is your favorite memory from residency?

Going to the AAD in San Francisco for one night. I spent more time on the plane than at the conference but it was still worth it!