Dr. Ambika R. Pradhan, MD (Bhutan)
Mentor: Dr. Jacek Szepietowski, MD
Wroclaw, Poland 2019
Major goals for your mentorship experience: It was a great honor to be selected for the ISD mentorship program, and I am immensely grateful to the ISD and Professor Jacek Szepietowski for giving me this opportunity. My main goal was to learn complex dermatologic surgery techniques and non-invasive skin procedures. In addition to simple excisions, I wanted to learn advanced techniques such as simple flaps and grafts. I also sought to refine my skills by working with the best in the field and to observe complicated cases and their management.
What did you like best about your mentorship experience? My mentor, Professor Jacek C. Szepietowski, had elaborately planned my two-month stay. He had assigned plastic surgeon Dr. Karolina Wojcicka and dermatologist Dr. Iwona Chlebicka as my teachers. I was able to follow patients from the time of presentation and evaluation to their treatment and follow-up. I observed and learned how to surgically remove benign and malignant tumors, perform reconstructions, and manage hidradenitis suppurativa surgically.
Describe any special experiences with your mentor: I was indeed very fortunate to be mentored by Professor Jacek Szepietowski. He provided excellent guidance and I had the opportunity to attend lectures with him in Warsaw and enjoyed his lecture on pruritus. This gave us a unique opportunity to have long discussions about work and it was very inspiring for me coming from a very small country.
Describe a skill acquired during your mentorship that you will definitely use when you return home: I will now perform excisions of facial tumors rather than referring these patients to the surgical unit. When appropriate, I will repair skin defects via grafts and simple skin flaps. I also witnessed a very comprehensive skin cancer screening program which could be implemented back in my country.
How will your mentorship experience impact your patient care and professional goals over the next year? Based upon my experiences in the operating room, the outpatient clinics and the inpatient unit, I have a better understanding of skin cancer diagnosis and management. Over the coming year I plan to establish recording and reporting of all skin cancers in Bhutan and introduce skin cancer screening.
How will your mentorship experience make an impact five years from now, including for your region or country? In addition to continuing to perform surgical procedures, I will pursue further training. In five years, my goal is to have good data on skin cancers in Bhutan. Based upon first-hand experience with clinical trials and writing a case report with Dr. Iwona, I hope to publish articles in the future that focus on skin diseases in Bhutan.
Share a pearl you learned during your mentorship experience: The best surgical option has to be individualized and be dependent on the type of skin lesion as well as the patient’s co-morbidities and age. Successful reconstruction with skin grafts can be tricky, but with excellent technique, adequate moisture and compression, chances of graft survival is high.