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A Piece of My Mind
September 20, 2016

Does It Matter?And Other Unforgiving Rhetoric

Author Affiliations
  • 1Dermatology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington
JAMA. 2016;316(11):1155-1156. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.7567

It is easy to lose perspective of the significance of one’s profession in the rituals of daily life. I’m a physician, but I’m not the kind of doctor most people imagine when they conjure the image. I’m not a surgeon, a primary care physician, an emergency physician, or any of the storied doctors on prime time television or in paperback novels whose casual heroics serve as entertainment for the masses or inspiration for the few. I’m a dermatologist. I see skin—and lots of it—on every part of the body that has it, which is nearly everywhere, even in places that some patients show me only sheepishly. I appreciate variety, and I am fortunate to have a great deal of it in my field. I see individuals for skin cancer surveillance and treatment, young people with acne, kids with often benign but scary-looking rashes, and hospitalized patients of all ages with frightening, sinister conditions that are often given less priority when other active medical problems demand attention. “It’s just skin” is a phrase I hear frequently.