By John Carruthers, assistant editor, June 03, 2013
For University of Texas-Southwestern dermatologist Nnenna Agim, MD, volunteerism was the very first value instilled by her parents during her upbringing in Nigeria. As a dermatologist and faculty member, she still holds those values close, providing care to underserved patients at the Agape Clinic in Dallas. The clinic’s website claims that Texas is the “underserved capital of the United States.” Dr. Agim and other community dermatologists work tirelessly to do the best they can for these patients.
"We do the best we can with what we have, and the patient and their family don't have to be scared about how they'll pay the bill. We provide a safe place for them."
- Dr. Agim’s interest in medicine began as a college student at the University of Houston, where she and a friend also hailing from Nigeria began to volunteer at a local hospital. The process of familiarizing themselves with the hospital care system, she said, made her determined to help alleviate patient suffering any way she could.
- “We got to meet these patients, hear their stories, and understand them. We weren’t nurses, or medical assistants, or doctors. We couldn’t do anything but be there for them. Yet just doing that was meaningful in and of itself. That stuck with me through medical school.”
- As Dr. Agim began her dermatology residency at UT-Southwestern, she learned of the Agape Clinic’s dermatology section, which had been started by a former resident in her program. She began attending bi-monthly, but soon found herself coming to the clinic as often as she could manage.
- Following a fellowship outside the area, Dr. Agim returned to UT-Southwestern and the clinic that had helped foster her spirit of community service. As a resident and staff member, she has been volunteering her services for seven years, providing quality specialist care for the underserved.
- “We’re able to diagnose, treat, and give patients samples of the medications they need. Now I’m faculty, and I have the ability to medically treat patients, but it’s still really fulfilling just to be able to see patients and be there for them, just like in college.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.