Dr. Imene Ben Lagha, MD (Tunisia)

Mentor: Nellie Konnikov, MD

Boston, Massachusetts, US 2018


Major goals for your mentorship experience: I am thankful to the ISD for giving me this amazing opportunity to strengthen my training. I also thank Dr Nejib Doss (Tunisia) who assisted me in obtaining this mentorship experience. My major goal was to enhance my knowledge regarding the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. I also wanted to become familiar with the advanced techniques used to assess and treat skin diseases in the US.

What did you like best about your mentorship experience? I liked all the aspects of my mentorship program and it far exceeded my expectations. I loved the fact that Dr. Konnikov had me rotate in different clinics including those focusing on surgery, laser therapy, and bullous diseases. I even had dermatopathology sessions with Dr. Mahalingham. I also had the chance to interact and build relationships with residents from Tufts, Boston, and Harvard Universities.

Describe any special experiences with your mentor: Dr. Konnikov is really an outstanding physician and mentor. Not only did she generously teach me about procedures such as photodynamic therapy, she also inspired me by her commitment to her patients and attention to their well-being and comfort. Her energy and positive joyful vibes during clinic were contagious. I really fell in love with her and will always be grateful to her.

Describe a skill acquired during your mentorship that you will definitely use when you return home: I improved my ability to diagnose and treat a wide range of skin lesions in photodamaged skin and I particularly loved the Wednesday surgery clinics with the Harvard physicians. I had the chance to observe multiple Mohs procedures and various forms of surgical reconstruction.

How will your mentorship experience impact your patient care and professional goals over the next year? Because of his vast knowledge and expertise regarding blistering diseases, I also learned a lot from Dr. Rezzaque Ahmed. I saw a wide range of autoimmune bullous disorders and received very specific tips and recommendations for each patient. I also appreciated his various therapeutic strategies, and I feel that I will be able to apply all the skills I acquired to my everyday practice.

How will your mentorship experience make an impact five years from now, including for your region or country? As residents in Tunisia, we acquire a basic knowledge of dermatopathology. After my mentorship, I am convinced that the additional dermatopathology I learned will allow me to be a better clinician. I really think that Grand Rounds is a vital educational experience and I would like to introduce this form of education to the Tunisian dermatologic community. I would also love to see more dermatologic surgery performed in Tunisia, rather than referring patients to surgical departments.

Share a pearl you learned during your mentorship experience: On the first day I met Dr. Konnikov, she gave me a very special task. She asked me to go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts every Wednesday afternoon to observe the paintings as an art student would and to learn how to distinguish a painting by Van Gogh from a painting by Gauguin. At first, I was a little bit confused. But then I realized that she wanted me to develop my visual skills, enhance my appreciation of colors and shapes, and sharpen my powers of observation, all of which are the important tools for a dermatologist.

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