This month, thousands of students will be moving on to future careers in their respective fields. My younger son is one of them. He is graduating from Carleton College in Minnesota. A beloved colleague asked me why on Earth would he want to go to school in Minnesota. I guess for someone living in the sunny south, it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to endure Minnesota’s frigid winters, but the truth is, my son fell in love with the small, friendly school.
This exchange made me reflect on how what we find “normal” probably has a lot more to do with how we were raised and the community in which we live than it has to do with any objective measure. And how trying to broach that boundary and get out of our respective comfort zones is the only way to grow, to learn, and yes, to lead.
The cover story for this issue, which begins on page 41, focuses on a dermatologist in northeast Ohio who is doing exactly that. Dr Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga invested in fostering leaders within his practice, and it paid off in a big way.
Dermatology surely needs future leaders, but what does leadership mean? To me, one key component is the ability to recognize other perspectives. Understanding where people are coming from is essential to leading them to where they need to go. Without respecting other people’s perspectives, it is difficult to gain their respect.
Being a great leader and a great physician have a lot in common. One of the challenges I face in giving patients great medical care is being able to put myself in their shoes and to be empathetic to their perceptions of me. Our continuing Special Series on Treating Special Patient Populations, which focuses on patients with diabetes this month and begins on page 44, can help dermatologists better understand things from a patient’s perspective.
In this issue we also have an article on the 25th anniversary of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants beginning on page 39. Perceptions of the impact of physician assistants (PAs) on dermatology are diverse. Having worked alongside PAs for decades, this anniversary seems to me to be a cause for celebration. Those dermatologists who have had different experiences may see it quite differently than I do. Hopefully anyone discussing the advantages and disadvantages of physician extenders (or any other issue) will be open and empathetic to the views of others.
Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Editor
Dr Feldman is with the Center for Dermatology Research and the Departments of Dermatology, Pathology, and Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.