Dermatology is better than ever. We have more to offer patients in terms of medical, surgical, and cosmetic options, all of which are more extensive than they have been at any point in history. Practicing dermatology, caring for the suffering, is a joy, and enriching in so many dimensions. But you might not know it from this month’s issue—at least at first glance.
If life is so good as a dermatologist, why would we need articles on how physicians can avoid burnout (beginning on page 44) and how to plan to hand off your practice to a successor (beginning on page 20)? Unfortunately, both those topics are a reality for many in our profession. The advice we provide may help anyone who encounters them navigate either situation more easily.
Then there is our cover story this month (beginning on page 37), which explores the use of artificial intelligence in clinical dermatology. If a car can drive itself, there should be little doubt that a machine will be able to diagnose rashes without us. Some members of our profession worry that these kinds of technological advances may make actual doctors obsolete. While we can expect that artificial intelligence will change what we do, or how we do it, I wouldn’t for a moment think that it will replace us. Humans need interpersonal interactions. You can’t replace a bank teller with a machine. What? You can? Oh.
I guess if you want to be pessimistic, you can be. There are downsides to every profession if you look for them. What makes a difference is the part of your job on which you choose to focus. Dwell on the stressful, unpleasant parts, and you may not be enjoying yourself. Focus on the solutions for those problems, or the things that make what you do feel worthwhile and meaningful, and you’ll be much better off.
In the long run, even the universe as we know it won’t be around forever. But instead of worrying whether it will end in a big ball of flame or a cold, dark, lifeless, emptiness—either way, it’s going to take a while—we should be enjoying ourselves. Dermatology, an extraordinarily enjoyable and remunerative vocation, is going to be here for a while, too.
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.