What is a Dermatopathologist? Dr. Hure Shares Her Story

What Is a Dermatopathologist? What Is Dermatopathology?

Session 01

Welcome to the first episode of the Specialist Stories podcast, sharing with you stories of specialists from every medical field. We give you the information you need to make sure you can make the most informed decision possible when it comes to choosing your specialty.

In this week’s episode, I talk with Dr. Michelle Hure, a dermatopathologist who has her own solo practice in her community.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

When Michelle knew she wanted to be a dermatologist:

  • She went from an interest in trauma surgery to dermatopathology.
  • Realized the need for work-life balance.

[Related episode: What Is Trauma Surgery? Dr. Darko Shares His Story.]

What she likes about dermatopathology:

  • Changing people’s lives and curing cancer
  • Getting to do surgery
  • Being able to go home at 5pm
  • Making use of her brain every day

What a dermatopathologist does:

There are two routes to become a dermatopathologist:

  1. Dermatology residency.
  2. Pathology residency
  • As a pathologist, it involves diagnosing conditions or interpreting biopsies that are key to a patient’s treatment plan. You are the doctor’s doctor.
  • Can do both clinical work and pathology.

A day in the life of a dermatopathologist:

  • Reading slides of biopsies she has taken personally or those from other doctors
  • Seeing patients at 10 am

Traits that lead to being a good dermatopathologist:

  • Open-mindedness: Being able to think of different possibilities and looking at slides without any biases
  • Knowledge of clinical history and clinical medicine
  • Curiosity
  • Openness to different differential diagnoses
  • A lot of thinking and investigation

What makes a competitive applicant to dermatology and dermatopathology:

  • Dermatopathology is very tough to get into.
    • There aren’t many programs, so the programs available are highly competitive.
  • Be always on your game. Walk the extra mile.
  • Do rotations in a place you’re really interested in doing your residency as well as your fellowships.
  • Be willing to take initiative.
There aren't many dermatopathology residency programs, so the ones that do exist are competitive to get into.Click To Tweet

What residency was like for Michelle

  • A focus on collaboration

Tip: If you know a specific fellowship you’re interested in, apply to residency at the same institution, so you can build relationships and have a higher chance of getting into that fellowship.

If you know a specific fellowship you're interested in, apply to residency at the same institution, so you can build relationships and have a higher chance of getting into that fellowship.Click To Tweet

What she wished she knew going into dermatopathology:

  • It’s possible to have a family early on.
  • Family comes first—residency and fellowship come second

[Related episode: How to Balance Family Life with Being a Premed and Med Student.]

What she wished primary care providers knew about dermatopathology:

Dermatopathologists have training in dermatology and pathology.

What Michelle likes most about being a dermatopathologist:

  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Patient interaction
  • Surgery
  • Being able to cure cancer

[Related episode: What Is Hematology/Oncology? An Academic Doc Discusses.]

What Michelle likes the least about her practice:

  • Dealing with insurance companies

If she had to do it all over again, would she still choose dermatopathology?

Yes, absolutely.

What is the future of dermatopathology?

  • Increasingly, biopsies must be done by experts in the field and not just “general” pathologists. So you need to establish a reputation for yourself and your specialization.
  • The field is becoming more saturated.

Advice to those interested in dermatopathology:

Look for work-life balance. You have to be happy with the specialty you pick. In dermatology or pathology, you will do well money-wise, but you’re also going to have a good work-life balance, which is one of the most important things you need to consider when choosing a specialty. Pick a specialty that you’re going to do well in and you’re going to be happy with.

In dermatology or pathology, you will do well money-wise, but you're also going to have a good work-life balance.Click To Tweet

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