We had the opportunity to ask a mentor, Dr. Amy McMichael, chair and professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University Health Sciences and Skin of Color Update faculty, questions about establishing a career in academics, finding a mentor, and better serving patients of color. See all of her insightful answers below.
Q1: I previously attended the Skin of Color Seminar Series (now Skin of Color Update) and while sitting in the audience, I noticed that many of attendees appeared to be white physicians. Do you think there’s a representation problem in Dermatology, and could it be impacting our patients?
However, we know from other research in the house of medicine that Dermatology is second only to Orthopedics in having the worst representation of African Americans. Also identified as a major problem is the poor pipeline of under-represented minorities in college, medical school, and ultimately, in residency. We all have lots of work to do in terms of mentoring at every level to get the pipeline full of appropriate candidates.
In addition to this, we need to all be thoughtful about looking at residency applicants who may not be traditional, but who would make resilient and excellent dermatologists.
Q2: Most dermatologists (at least most of the ones I know) seem to think they don’t need special training for treating patients of color and can’t seem to acknowledge that a gap in training exists. As a dermatologist of color, I find it personally frustrating. Do you find this to be true among your peers? If so, how do you address this with them?