Dr. Ana Aurelia Santos, MD (Philippines)

Mentor: Dr. Ncoza Dlova, MD 

Durban, South Africa. 2019



Major goals for your mentorship experience: My interests are hair diseases and HIV-associated cutaneous infections, two areas where I felt intimidated because I had limited exposure to them in the Philippines. The major goals for my mentorship experience were to see as many patients as possible with hair disorders and HIV-associated cutaneous infections in order to enhance my clinical acumen and to gain more confidence in treatment strategies.

What did you like best about your mentorship experience?: In addition to learning about hair diseases from Prof. Dlova, I was able to participate in the Bullous Clinic with Dr. Nokubonga Khoza every Tuesday, Pediatric Dermatology Clinic with Dr. Antoinette Chateau every Friday, and General Dermatology with an emphasis on HIV-associated cutaneous infections with Prof. Anisa Mosam and other consultants. It was also a pleasure to form friendships with the consultants and registrars in the Department as well as the chance to explore the beauty of South Africa.

Describe any special experiences with your mentor: I enjoyed seeing patients with Prof. Dlova. She would first ask me for my opinion regarding the diagnosis and then if I wanted to add anything to the management, after we discussed the patient's history. I felt that she truly valued my opinion. Besides sharing dermatological insights, she also shared stories of her years in training.

Describe a skill acquired during your mentorship that you will definitely use when you return home: Prof. Dlova encouraged me to examine each patient with a hair complaint both with the naked eye and through a dermatoscope. I will certainly use this latter skill to diagnose hair conditions (not just pigmented lesions) in my practice. 

How will your mentorship experience impact your patient care and professional goals over the next year?: My mentorship experience was a stepping stone, and it served to encourage me to pursue a fellowship in hair diseases in the future. I also hope to do research on hair diseases among Filipinos, because I was inspired by Prof. Dlova's collaborative work in which mutations in PADI3 were found to be associated with central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia.

How will your mentorship experience make an impact five years from now, including for your region or country?: Five years from now, I hope the Philippines will have gained another hair specialist in me. Perhaps there will also be a groundbreaking research discovery for Asian hair diseases - inspired by my mentor's findings! My knowledge in HIV-associated cutaneous infections will also play a role in managing my fellow Filipinos' conditions as the Philippines has been reported to have had the fastest growing HIV rate in the Asia Pacific region.

Share a pearl you learned during your mentorship experience: Prof. Dlova shared valuable insights not only in dermatology, but also on how to live as a strong woman of color. One of her favorite quotes that resonated with me was that “if one sets her mind on anything in life, she will achieve it”. When I was a dermatology resident, I didn't think that I would have this opportunity. I applied and hoped for the best and now I have finished what I consider to be three of the best months in my career as a young dermatologist

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