Member Making a Difference: Karolyn Wanat, MD

Member Making a Difference

Dermatologist Karolyn Wanat, MD, provides aid to underserved.

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University of Iowa dermatologist Karolyn Wanat, MD, has long been interested in building relationships with her community. As a child, her parents constantly involved the family in volunteer work. As a dermatologist, she has participated in the Academy’s Resident International program in Botswana, and recently worked with Puentes de Salud during her residency to help offer care to the underserved Hispanic population in Philadelphia.

"When I get back from the clinic, I feel so energized. Volunteering gives me back so much more than I give."

  • In choosing her residency program, Dr. Wanat said that she specifically searched for a program that offered local and international volunteer outreach. Even still, she said, the level of volunteerism at the University of Pennsylvania, where she eventually landed, left her floored.
  • “We have such amazing role models in dermatology — Dr. Carrie Kovarik, Dr. Bill James, and a host of others  — that make it easy to become involved in making a difference,” she said.
  • Following her trip to Botswana, Dr. Wanat spent time interpreting the pathology from the cases seen on the trip. Interacting with and supporting the residents in that country, she said, made for a supremely rewarding experience.
  • During her residency, Dr. Wanat helped implement a monthly dermatology clinic at the Philadelphia nonprofit Puentes de Salud. When the level of patient demand became clear, she said, she and her colleagues began implementing a weekly teledermatology program there as well.
  • “Most of the patients at Puentes de Salud are immigrants with no access at all. We recently had a woman diagnosed with a melanoma early. She brought her children in to get checked as well, and we were able to treat her and educate her about skin health and using sunscreen,” Dr. Wanat said. “Getting to know her family and seeing how our ability to provide care impacted that family was a powerful moment.”

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