I must admit the last year and a half really tested my spirit. My outlook had been the lowest that I can remember, but one thing kept me going—teamwork! I have been in SDPA Leadership since 2012 and have built strong, lasting relationships with people I now consider my “SDPA family.” With all the uncertainty, changes, and fears we have endured during the pandemic; I was at my limit. Our own losses, whether it was a family member, friend, job, or sense of stability and security, might have brought us to the brink of losing hope; but we were there for each other.
Being a valued team member is important not only in leadership but also in your personal and professional lives as well. We are all creatures of habit and believe things should be only one way, but we also must respect one another, think outside of the box, get out of our comfort zone, and just try to be a better human. Take the competitive nature out of your soul and cheer for each other. Give people the opportunity for growth and even teach them what they could do better. Support changes that come your way because, without change, there is no progress. In the end, we all want to be better than we were yesterday and have hope for the future. We all learn from our mistakes and can pass that wisdom on with a smile and encouragement.
Compassion is another important aspect of being part of a team. We all must take turns listening and being listened to. A good case example of conveying compassion and empathy can be seen when caring for a patient with neurotic behaviors such as excoriation disorder (also referred to as chronic skin-picking or dermatillomania), a mental illness related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you really listen to the patient, in the end, it has nothing to do with their skin, really, but a psychiatric, repetitive self-inflicting habit. The mind is a powerful tool, and it is guided by what you keep telling yourself is the truth. So, take that deeper dive and attempt to understand another person’s point of view.
Speaking of point of view, it’s equally important to be mindful of your own perspective and the attitude (verbal or nonverbal) you exude. Take for instance how you handle the reality of aging. You have a choice to be negative or positive about the aging process. Do you want to be that negative, grumpy individual that nobody wants to be around or the person who keeps positive and is a pleasure to have as company because they make you smile? A good mood is contagious and are good deeds, which can spark change in others. The beginning of any change typically has a very long story behind it.
Finally, I want to discuss the rule of acceptance. Sometimes, things do not go as planned. Okay, it may seem like this happens more than “sometimes,” but who is counting? Every individual has their own opinions and many times, these might not jive with your own. A great example is when a patient seeks a “second opinion” as he or she may not agree with your diagnosis. Incongruence in opinion between care provider and patient isn’t unusual and can happen for many reasons. Perhaps the patient is in denial that something could be wrong or maybe you did misdiagnose something (yes, it can happen). In the long run, healthcare is a team approach to achieve one common goal—to help and care for the patient.
Instead of taking it personally that the patient might seek a second opinion, take the advice from above and tap into your positive, compassionate side to better understand and respect that individual’s point of view.
The bottom line is this: As healthcare professionals, it is our duty to keep our patients safe and informed. We provide our wealth of knowledge to the people who need it; whatever they do with that knowledge is their prerogative. In the end, it is not solely our opinion that puts a patient on their path to healing, but rather our sharing of knowledge acquired through formal education and professional experience. The desire to better our patient care through knowledge sharing is a driving force behind SDPA’s strength and success. That is why the SDPA consistently strives to offer stellar educational opportunities. That is why the SDPA membership is more than 4,000 strong and leading the Dermatology PA profession forward and making a difference. However, we cannot do it alone. It is not only made up of a stellar staff, but volunteers! Yes, all that you see happening in front of you is because of them. ALL OF IT! So, as I begin my term as SDPA President, I would like to ask you the following: “What are you doing for your profession?” What are you doing to make it better? Whether it is an hour a week or more, lending your time and talents can really make a difference. Ultimately, it is all about TEAMWORK and we need you!
I ask you to open your arms, embrace one another so that we may listen and learn as part of team. Also, let’s work to embrace diversity and change—it is the only way forward to growth. While thinking about change, I’m reminded of a powerful and inspirational quote:
“The most dangerous phrase in our language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’”
– Grace Hopper, American computer scientist and first woman to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.
Renata Block, MMS, PA-C