Three College of Medicine students presented at the annual American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) meeting in San Diego in February: Yostina Farid, a second-year student; Parker Hollingsworth, a third-year student; and Katherine Stiff, a third-year student. Funding from the NEOMED Student Council helped to support the students’ travel expenses, as it does for student presentations at many conferences. All three students are pursuing their interest in dermatology by working with dermatologist Eliot Mostow, MD, M.P.H., professor of internal medicine and chair of dermatology , as a faculty mentor.
In three installments, we’re presenting the three students’ stories. Here’s the third.
Parker Hollingsworth (M3)
While in our second year at the College of Medicine, we have a dermatology week led by Dr. Mostow where we spend multiple days learning both in the classroom and through live-patient sessions. This was one of favorite learning experiences of medical school. During that week, I started seriously considering dermatology as a specialty. Dermatology is unique in that you can look at a patient and often immediately make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment without having to leave the room or ordering tests.
I started working on a couple of dermatology projects during the fall of my third year and presented both at the most recent AAD annual meeting in San Diego last month. This was the first time I had attended the AAD annual meeting, and it was an awesome experience. I was lucky enough to go with three of my NEOMED classmates. I think we all agreed that the weather in San Diego was perfect, and it was a much-appreciated break from the long Ohio winter.
The Global Skin Disease Burden
I gave two oral presentations. The first one was titled “The Global Skin Disease Burden: An Update from the Global Burden of Disease 2016 Study,” and was referenced in a recent Medscape . I presented this at the Late Breaking Research session. I worked on this project with Robert P. Dellavalle, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., a professor of dermatology and public health at the University of Colorado. I presented the dermatologic disease results from the most recent Global Burden of Disease Study, which is the largest epidemiologic study to date and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
I had reached out to Dr. Dellavalle by email in the fall because he was listed as a mentor on the AAD’s website. I was interested in the research he was doing and wanted to get involved. I sent him a copy of my CV and he happened to know Dr. Mostow from their involvement in dermatology epidemiology. Because I majored in Bioinformatics at Brigham Young University, the Global Burden of Disease project was a nice fit for me to work on.
Digitizing a Birdwatching List
The following day of the AAD conference, I gave my second presentation, titled “An Enhanced Electronic ‘Birdwatching List’ for Dermatology Education,” at the Dermatology Teachers Exchange Group. A critical deficit in teaching both dermatology and non-dermatology students and residents is the need to organize the cases they are seeing and prioritize the critical points for them. Dr. Mostow has used an approach called the “Birdwatching List and Travelogue” for years. After talking to him about possible student projects, he told me an unmet need was a digital format to enhance the experience and create more useful data for evaluating the process. Niraj Patel, M.D., currently a resident at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, and I teamed up to create a prototype app for students and residents to use during their dermatology rotation. The purpose of this app is to provide an efficient way to teach and track the progress of developing dermatologic skills in a busy dermatology practice.
The app allows users to log dermatologic conditions they see during their rotation and record comments about the lesion characteristics and treatment. The app also tracks how often the attending agrees with rotators about their suspected diagnoses. We hope the data curated from this app will help identify common gaps in dermatology knowledge and improve the effectiveness of dermatology education.
Benefits of attending
We all came home with a suitcase full of free sunscreen and skincare products from the vendors. I met a lot of people during the meeting. The session director for one of the sessions was faculty at Johns Hopkins University and the other session director is the residency program director at the University of Washington. I was asked by the CEO of VisualDx if I’d consider taking a year off school to work for him because he was impressed with the app. I received a lot of compliments for my presentations and was told that it was very impressive for a medical student to present at the AAD. I was also asked to get involved with a couple other projects after the meeting.
I think it was good exposure for NEOMED as well. I had to correct one of the session directors, when he confused Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown, Ohio with Northwestern University near Chicago. Not everyone is familiar with NEOMED nationally, so I think it is helpful for all NEOMED students when one of us can present at a national meeting.
Advice for NEOMED classmates
- The biggest takeaways from having attended and presented at the meeting are:It’s not too late to get involved in productive projects if you are a third-year student. I thought having no dermatology-related research starting third year would be a big concern when applying for residency, but I have been able to do a lot. I was recently awarded a travel fellowship to present on the Global Burden of Melanoma at the International Investigative Dermatology annual meeting in Orlando in May. One good project can lead to many presentations and publications
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to mentors. I emailed a lot of people looking for mentors, and was lucky to find one here at NEOMED and one on the other side of the country.
- Be yourself. Meetings like this could potentially be very stressful and overwhelming if you’re too worried about impressing everyone.
- I think attending conferences is a lot more beneficial if you’re presenting something. Abstract due dates are often months in advance, so plan completion of your research with those submission deadlines in mind. I am very grateful that NEOMED’s student council values student scholarly activity and is willing to fund travel expenses.