We sat down with Dermatology P.A., Erin Jensen, to get an inside look at her specialty. Working out of her office in the beautiful and sunny region of Southern California, Jensen explains her dream career and why she chose to pursue it.
It is so rewarding to see someone with severe acne or horrible scarring improve with treatment and witness them come out of his or her shell.
I love performing procedures as well as the one-on-one interactions with patients. I knew I wanted to be in an office setting. My background prior to P.A. school was orthopedics, so that was a contender, but after I finished my Dermatology rotation there was no question this was the speciality for me. I enjoy being able to see patients of all ages as well as practicing both medical and cosmetic dermatology.
An Emotional Case
I had seen this one patient for about two years with her son, who was being treated for acne, and had gotten to know her very well. One day she came in for a severe rash that had caused large violaceous nodules to form on her body. After several biopsies, I discovered it to be Lymphatoid Papalomatoais; a relatively rare condition, which has an increased risk of lymphoma. Informing the patient of this news and the necessity of an oncology work up was heartbreaking because I knew that her husband had been undergoing treatments for kidney cancer. Throughout this whole process she was always positive and so gracious. Luckily, her oncology work up was clear and we've been able to control her condition with medication. While this patient has thanked me many times for my care, she is the one who has provided me more insight into life and inspiration than I think I could ever convey to her.
Life Outside of the Office
If you happen to get a hold of my phone, don't be alarmed to see lots of picture of body parts in my photo album. I always have some friend or family member sending me pictures of their rashes or other skin conditions for advice. My husband doesn't bat an eye anymore, when he sees something that at first glance appears to be risqué on the screen. I love my profession so much and couldn't imagine doing anything else. I am married with two small children and a third one on the way. I constantly strive for that "balance," but have a hard time believing it truly exists. I've made decisions to try to allow the most time with my family, including living only ten minutes from my work, picking up my daughter from preschool at my lunch break, and trying to schedule patients so I'm able to attend their doctor appointments, sporting practices, etc.
The Best of Both Worlds
I love the variety my day brings and no two days are ever the same. I practice both medical and cosmetic dermatology and am able to do a lot of different procedures. Everything from removing moles, I&Ds, injections, liquid nitrogen treatments, laser treatments, minor surgeries, Botox, fillers, etc. Many dermatologic conditions can be devastating to a patient's life and self-esteem. It is so rewarding to see someone with severe acne or horrible scarring improve with treatment and witness them come out of his or her shell. I have especially seen a huge transformation with teenagers. During an initial visit,they may hardly look you in the eye, but after treatment, when their completion has cleared, they are all smiles.
Dermatology + Medicine
I love Dermatology, but I really love being able to practice medicine as a Physician Assistant. I know that I am able to make a difference in my patient's lives and spend that extra time with them that they need. I enjoy working in the team model of medicine and work with some great physicians who always support me in what I do. Public knowledge about the PA profession has greatly increased since I started PA school a decade ago. Patients are much more comfortable to see a PA when they understand their capabilities. I believe mid-level providers will be an integral part of health care reform. I feel very fortunate to be able to love what I do every day.
Jensen is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, which is the largest, most influential and most representative group of dermatologists in the United States. For more information on AAD, please visit: https://www.aad.org/