Mentorship Program Arcaira

Dr. Joshua Arcaira

Mentor: Somani Ally-Khan, MD

Indiana University Health, USA

Major goals for your mentorship experience: The number of dermatologic surgeons actively practicing in my country is still scarce compared to the population in need. My goal was to learn Mohs Micrographic Surgery and basic and advanced reconstructive techniques (such as flaps and grafts). Moreover, I wanted to appreciate the first-world point of view of dermatologic care, the ideal set-up, workflow, and conduct. My ultimate dream would be to incorporate and achieve the same standards in my own patient care in the Philippines.

What did you like best about your mentorship experience? Everyday was like a surprise. I was very fortunate to be matched to a mentor whose ideals aligned with mine; and is extremely passionate, skillful, and knowledgeable about what he does. My best memories in this program revolve around our well-rounded mix of surgical cases each day, teaching rounds, life stories, and good-natured banter between Dr. Somani, Dr. Abdulhak (Mohs fellow), and myself. I saw how establishing a healthy relationship with staff and patients is key to a successful practice.

Describe any special experiences with your mentor: During one of our conversations, Dr. Somani shared that the believes that the best way for one to learn is to create a safe space where healthy exchange of ideas, theory, and experience can be shared - without prejudice or condescension. He practices this with all his trainees; and wants us to learn the skill and art of surgery in our way, not only his way. This has empowered me to grow and pave my own path in dermatologic surgery. I am also grateful for publication opportunities with my mentor.

Describe a skill acquired during your mentorship that you will definitely use when you return home: Dr. Somani taught me that every excision is an ellipse. It’s just a matter of circumstance where you would be able to take the triangles [of the ellipse] out - conventionally, or as a standing cone. This has laid a great foundation for my approach to excisions and Mohs micrographic surgery moving forward. He also shared that the length of the scar is not as important as respecting the natural contours of the face, to redirect tension away from free margins, and obtain the nicest possible scar.

How will your mentorship experience impact your patient care and professional goals over the next year? I envision that in the next 5 years, I would have contributed to building a Dermatology residency program in my alma mater, of which I will serve as a mentor for dermatologic surgery. I aim to uphold a healthy learning environment for students/ trainees, and excellent standard of care for the patients of my province of Cavite and the Southern Tagalog region. I would also like to participate in dermatologic surgery workshops and missions across the nation, and share knowledge through lectures.

Share a pearl you learned during your mentorship experience: 'Keep it simple.' My mentor highlighted the importance of this approach to dermatologic surgery, especially in repairs of Mohs micrographic surgery defects. Although not an absolute rule, it's simply a matter of what method will be the most appropriate for the patient. After all, the most important thing is to be able to provide the best care we can to our patients. This advice is definitely something that I will carry on and keep in mind as I build my practice.

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