Dr. Maria Isabel Saraiva, MD (Brazil)

Mentor: Dr. Nellie Konnikov, MD 

Boston, Massachusetts, US. 2018



To say that Dr. Isabel Saraiva of Brazil had a fulfilling training experience with mentor Dr. Nellie Konnikov at the VA Healthcare System in Boston, as well as Boston University and Tufts University, would be an understatement.

Because her greatest interest in dermatology was in the cutaneous oncology and surgery field, Dr. Saraiva focused on improving her knowledge of skin cancer and its therapeutic approaches, both in Brazil and during her visiting rotation in Boston. In addition, she was interested in laser and other aesthetic procedures and sought experience in those areas as well.

Dr. Konnikov organized Dr. Saraiva’s educational schedule at the VA Healthcare System, giving her a chance to observe many Mohs surgery procedures, photodynamic therapy, and laser treatment for rosacea, scars, hair removal, and tattoo removal. She relished the opportunity to work in clinical dermatology alongside residents and nurse practitioners and is thankful to Drs. Konnikov, Emily Ruiz, Abigail Waldman, Stephanie Liu and Daniel Loo for being so welcoming to her and always available to share their experiences and knowledge.

Dr. Saraiva’s jam-packed schedule included Mohs surgery on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, laser and photodynamic therapy on Thursdays, general dermatology on Fridays, and Grand Rounds at Boston University on the first Wednesday of the month and at Tufts University on the third Wednesday of the month. She appreciated the opportunity to attend Grand Rounds at these two prestigious teaching institutions, which she believes definitely enriched her educational experience. Dr. Saraiva also had the chance to hear an excellent lecture by Dr. Caroline Kim of Harvard Medical School that focused on the management of melanocytic lesions.

Having had the chance to watch more than 10 Mohs procedures per day, Dr. Saraiva found these surgeries particularly fascinating -- from the preparatory phase to the actual surgical excision to the histotechnique work (tissue preparation, freezing, staining of sections). She also appreciated the opportunity to examine tissue under the microscope along with the Mohs team in an on-site laboratory.

Given Dr. Saraiva’s limited exposure to aesthetic procedures, Dr. Konnikov arranged for her to gain practical experience in this area, thereby exceeding her expectations. Observing and assisting in various technologies (e.g. pulsed dye, picosecond and fractional lasers, intense pulsed light and radiofrequency devices) for a variety of aesthetic conditions was exciting to Dr. Saraiva. In addition, she observed Dr. Konnikov perform facial volume restoration in special patient populations with calcium hydroxylapatite and polylactic acid, two products with which she was not very familiar.

“The ISD Mentorship Program inspired me to follow my area of interest in my country and to contribute to the improvement of dermatology in South America. I am truly grateful to have been selected as a mentee.” -- Dr. Isabel Saraiva


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