In dermatology, we are fortunate to have many insightful practitioners and great teachers and mentors. Some are bright stars in our special universe–others unsung heroes. All of these colleagues have much to share, from wisdom to humor to insights into dermatology and life. This column allows us to gain insight from these practitioners and learn more about them.
Nada Elbuluk, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University where she also minored in gender studies and African American studies.
She went on to complete her medical degree from the University of Michigan where she graduated with a distinction in research. While there, she also received a master of science in clinical research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She then completed her dermatology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Afterwards, she served as a fellow and clinical instructor in the department of dermatology at The University of Pennsylvania.
Dr Elbuluk practices medical and procedural dermatology with a clinical and research interest in ethnic skin and pigmentary disorders particularly vitiligo, melasma, and postinflammatory pigmentation. Dr Elbuluk is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Dermatology. She is an active member of the Skin of Color Society and currently serves as the Research Committee Chair and cofounded the organization’s mentorship program. She is also a member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society and serves as the cochair for the Young Physicians Committee. Previously, she also served as the Resident Director on the Society of Investigative Dermatology Board of Directors.
Q. What part of your work gives you the most pleasure?
A. There are many parts of my work in academia that I enjoy including teaching residents and medical students, interacting and collaborating with my colleagues, conducting research, and implementing positive change within my department and institution. However, if I had to choose what gives me the most pleasure, it would be patient care. I really enjoy the long-term relationships that I develop with my patients. This includes witnessing their happiness as their conditions improve as well as having the opportunity to also take care of their family members as patients.
Q. Are an understanding and appreciation of the humanities important in dermatology and why?
A. In dermatology, we routinely deal with the medical, psychological, and social implications of cutaneous conditions on our patients. To navigate this complex intersection and to be a competent and compassionate dermatologist, I strongly feel that it is important to have an understanding and appreciation of the humanities. In college, I majored in psychology and minored in gender studies and African American studies. My liberal arts education definitely continues to benefit me in my practice today and my everyday care of patients.
Q. What is your greatest regret?
A. One of my life philosophies is to live my life without regrets and to instead look at prior challenges or negative experiences as growing opportunities. Ultimately, I feel that all my life experiences have led me to where I am and have molded me into the person that I am today. Therefore, I try to embrace all my experiences regardless of whether they have been positive or negative.
Q. Who was your hero/mentor and why?
A. I have been fortunate over the course of my educational training and early career to have several amazing mentors. These include Drs Sewon Kang, William James, Amit Pandya, and Pearl Grimes. These individuals have always believed in me and supported me since the moment I met them. Through their teaching and the example they set, I have learned how to be a strong clinician, build a niche, conduct clinical and translational research, as well as how to mentor and teach others. Furthermore, they have taught me how to maintain a work-life balance while having a productive career. I am forever indebted to them and continue to be grateful for their mentorship and support.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you have received and from whom?
A. The best advice I have received is from my parents who told me, “Always stay true to yourself and believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.” This advice has inspired me throughout my childhood and adulthood and has helped me overcome some of my greatest challenges.
Q. Which medical figure in history would you want to have a drink with and why?
A. I would want to meet Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female to graduate from medical school, and a pioneer in promoting women in medicine. I am always in awe of individuals in history who have helped break down barriers and forge new pathways for generations to come. There was a time when women were the minority in medicine, and thanks to her and many others, the entering classes in medical school now are often 50% women or greater. I am a big proponent of supporting women in medicine as well as those minority groups that are underrepresented in medicine. It would be an honor to meet one of the first individuals who helped to make this change possible and to hear about how she overcame the challenges she faced in her time.
Dr Barankin is a dermatologist in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is author-editor of 7 books in dermatology and is widely published in the dermatology and humanities literature.