By John Carruthers, October 01, 2012
Austin dermatologist Dayna Diven, MD, spent time and effort participating in the legislative process in her home state, serving as a dermatologic society representative to the Texas legislature. She balances that effort with doing medical missions focusing on both general medicine and dermatology. Throughout, she’s managed to volunteer at homeless outreach programs in her community, host exchange students from the Czech Republic and Germany, and serve as treasurer for the local Girl Scout troop.
"The bottom line is that if we aren't involved in the process of legislation, decisions are going to be made for you."
- Dr. Diven’s experience in public policy started when she began to be called to provide expert testimony during legislative sessions for bills that related to the practice of dermatology. Soon, instead of merely commenting on bills just prior to passage, she and her colleagues at the Texas Dermatological Society got involved earlier in the process, examining the language and evolution of various bills related to the specialty.
- “Getting involved in the process can be exciting, frustrating, slow but it’s always interesting.”
- In 2009, a tanning bill came through the Texas legislature that would set an age limit on tanning bed use. Dr. Diven said that she learned a great deal about the legislative process through the tanning industry’s attempt to invoke parents’ rights on the issue. The bill, supported by the Texas Dermatological Society, eventually set the minimum age for tanning at 16 years, six months, a number chosen for its relationship to unrestricted driving privileges in the state.
- “I’ve always liked the 'white hat' issues, where it’s not a turf war, it doesn’t have anything to do with money. It’s when you have nothing to gain and work only for the public good. If anything, tanning booths help my business. With that issue, you’re clearly serving the public interest.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.