The social life of a dermatologist

Source: The Harvard Gazette, June 2023

“Can I show you something?” comes the overture. Then the friend of a friend, second cousin, or complete stranger pulls up a hem, pulls down a collar, or just starts removing their clothes.

Such is the summer of the skin cancer expert. The season of beaches, barbecues, and picnics is also a period of awkward exposure, when the person whose name you don’t know really needs your opinion on this weird spot, never mind the appointment.

With the skin, people can see the problem,” said Shadi Kourosh, director of the Dermatology Community Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “My colleagues can talk to their patients about heart disease and diabetes until they’re blue in the face, but that can fall on deaf ears because the person can’t see their heart disease and diabetes. But if they’ve got a spot and find out you’re a dermatologist, it doesn’t matter if you’re at a party or in an airline terminal.”