Dermatology Specialists, Boulder, CO
Dermatology Specialists is a dermatology practice with offices across Colorado. During my time as an intern, I trained and worked as a medical assistant under Dr. Shawn Allen ’93, the founder of the practice. Dr. Allen focuses mainly on MOHS surgery, a procedure to cure non-melanoma skin cancer, and in my first few weeks, I applied my learning on the types of skin cancer that patients were seeking treatment for and learned the basics of MOHS surgery.
In addition to learning about different skin cancers, I also spent the first few weeks learning medical note-taking and EMA, the medical record system that the practice uses. Learning EMA allowed me to take visit notes on my own and properly record every aspect of a patient’s visit and procedure.
As time went on, I became more comfortable assisting with MOHS procedures and was able to room patients on my own and assist with some aspects of the procedure, including cautery and bandaging. I kept patients comfortable throughout their procedure and taught them proper wound care for their MOHS sites. During a MOHS procedure patient tissue is frozen in the lab, which is in the office, and 360-degree margins of the tissue are checked for any remaining cancer. This allows for an over 99% cure rate of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, the highest cure rate in cancer treatment. Assisting with such a powerful procedure was incredibly special, as patients often arrived for their procedure with anxiety and fear and left the clinic just a few hours later cancer free.
As an intern, I worked alongside medical assistants, many of whom were taking time after their undergrad experience to apply to medical school. Because of this, I gained a whole new understanding of the medical school application process and learned what it takes to be a competitive applicant. This new understanding will be incredibly helpful should I choose to apply to medical school in the future. Additionally, the many doctors in the practice shared their career and life paths with me, illustrating the many paths to a career as a doctor.
Moving forward, I hope to use my broadened understanding of a career as a doctor and what it takes to inform my choice of courses at Williams. From this experience I have learned how much I value hands-on and skill-based work. I also loved the problem-solving element of healthcare. While I greatly enjoyed my time at Dermatology Specialists, I have also begun thinking about other careers in the sciences that involve similar hands-on problem solving. In my upcoming classes I plan on continuing with my biology major and neuroscience concentration while shifting away from other pre-med requirement classes and exploring more computer science courses.
Finally, I would like to thank the Estate of Bruce C. Davey and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for the opportunity that allowed me to explore a new field and broaden my knowledge with this internship.