Our Next Steps readers had the opportunity to ask Dr. Kelley Redbord, accomplished Mohs surgeon, assistant professor and dermatology advocate questions about various aspects of career development. Read on to learn valuable information and tips from Dr. Redbord, a key leader in the field of dermatology.
What can I do during my residency years to become a competitive candidate to a Mohs fellowship?
There are many things that a resident can do to become a better candidate for a Mohs fellowship. Obviously, the most important thing is to make yourself an outstanding resident through being a diligent and conscientious part of your program. In addition, it is great to show initiative in terms of publications, submission of posters, and talks at the AAD, ASDS, ACMS or similar meetings. Along those lines, it is a great idea to get involved in the dermatology community. Getting your name out, even as a resident, at the Mohs College or AAD can really help. Apply for the resident preceptorship program, get involved with the WDS and apply for the WDS Mentorship Award, attend the Legislative Conference or get involved with a local medical or state dermatology society.
What advice would you have for residents trying to decide which fellowships to apply to?
Different fellowship programs focus on different things depending on the fellowship director. Some fellowships focus more on surgery. Some provide a mix of cosmetics and surgery. Find one that fits your goals, but remember at the same time that these are very competitive. Apply widely and remember that every program will be an amazing learning experience. Perhaps most importantly, choose a program with a fellowship director you respect and want to learn from.
This is essential for the year you are in your fellowship and for a lifetime of mentoring and friendship. I do not believe that geography is an important factor –remember: the fellowship is one year. Have an adventure and grow exponentially as a dermatologist, and as a person.
I have read that completing a dermatopathology fellowship before applying to a Mohs fellowship is becoming a common pathway, what is your opinion on this?
I suggest choosing between dermatopathology and Mohs, as I am not sure that there is a profound advantage to doing both.
How does a young dermatologist get involved in leadership with societies such as AAD, ACMS, ASDS, WDS, etc.?
Quite frankly, showing up and showing interest are so important. It is actually much easier than you think to get involved if you just show an interest. All organizations have resident spaces to be on committees/workgroups/boards. Networking is so important as you move forward. Seek out people who are already involved and pick their brains or ask your program director and attendings for advice and guidance. They have all been there. There are WDS and AAD skin cancer screenings you can attend and at which you can network. Beyond those organizations, you can get involved with your state or local dermatology society.
What advice would you have for a young dermatologist trying to get involved in advocacy work, like your work with SkinPAC?
Be passionate about our specialty both personally and professionally. This is our life, and we should be so proud of the profession and the care we give our patients. As I mentioned, it is so easy to get involved and there are so many opportunities. Go to Capitol Hill or do an in-district meeting with your member of Congress. The ASDS, ACMS and AAD have resources to help you navigate the process. Make connections with your legislators. There are opportunities to testify in front of the FDA or even sponsor bills such as SUNucate or Under 18 tanning bills. If you can, attend the Legislative conference and local and state dermatology meetings. Donate to SkinPAC at any level you can.
What goals should a new Mohs surgeon have to get to the next level, career-wise?
It is really about doing all the things I mentioned in previous answers –embrace your profession and engage the network of amazing dermatologists that we work with. Get involved in our professional societies and, most importantly, continue to hone and build your skills as a surgeon. Please also remember that your opportunities are a gift and that you have an obligation to pay that gift back by mentoring the next generation of dermatologists and Mohs surgeons. The AAD has an amazing Leadership Institute with opportunities to hone your leadership skills.
Can you share a piece of advice that one of your mentors gave you that has stuck with you?
I was blessed with a wonderful mentor and friend in Dr. William Hanke. Dr. Hanke encouraged me to get involved in the AAD and Mohs College and start giving back and connecting now. If I could give one piece of advice, it is that if you truly engage with our profession, you will get so much back in return – wonderful mentors, grateful patients, and dear friends.