By John Carruthers, staff writer, July 01, 2011
Birmingham, Ala., dermatologist Elizabeth Jacobson, MD, has a passion for improving health care in her state. Two years ago, she recognized a shortage of access to dermatology in rural Alabama. To address it, she became involved with a family practice residency program to better equip doctors in training with a basic dermatologic skill set. In addition, when lecturing at a state meeting of family practitioners, she offered to make herself available to any physician hoping to learn some basic dermatology skills. As a result, she has assisted a number of current and future family practitioners to provide better dermatologic care.
“I’m so excited about being able to do this, and the truth is I learn so much from them — they see things with a different set of eyes.”
- “Many family practitioners have not had the benefit of a dermatology rotation, so they may not be aware of the reasons we choose shave or punch biopsy,” Dr. Jacobson said. “This clarification can make a significant difference to the dermatopathologist who is reading the slide, allowing an accurate diagnosis to be made.”
- “In a relatively short amount of time, I can get a family practice doctor up to speed on some very basic dermatologic information and skills,” she said. “[They] are not trying to learn how to be dermatologists, but they are encountering rashes and lesions that need to be attended to and trying to do the best they can in this situation.”
- Most of the physicians who spend time learning from Dr. Jacobson are in areas where there are no dermatologists within 100 miles and/or there are no available appointments for three to six months. In addition, many patients are elderly or do not have the means to travel. The rural physicians who spend time in Dr. Jacobson’s office often stay in touch, sending photos and treatment questions over email. “I admire their willingness to take the time away from their practices to become better physisicans,” she said. “My doors are always open to physicians who want to provide better care for their patients!”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference