Dr. Heidi Waldorf is a nationally recognized cosmetic dermatologist and the Director of Laser & Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She has presented at numerous conferences and published on a variety of topics, from toxins to cosmeceuticals. In addition to maintaining an expert status in cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Waldorf is also a mentor with the Women's Dermatologic Society (www.womensderm. org), an organization dedicated to helping dermatologists in making a contribution to the specialty. Ahead, Dr. Waldorf discusses how the WDS fulfills its mentoring mission, the importance of delegating early in your career, and how to integrate cosmetic procedures into clinical practice.
As a member of the Women's Dermatologic Society, can you discuss the issue of mentoring dermatologists new to the specialty?
“The Women's Dermatologic Society has a key role in mentoring and networking,” notes Dr. Waldorf. “If you combine the two, that means mentoring both laterally and vertically. We will mentor people who are just starting out, but we also mentor each other via our networking.” She observes that clinicians emerging from residency have different needs than the people whose practices are evolving, which is why mentoring is so important. One of the keys to effective mentoring, notes Dr. Waldorf, is speaking to and addressing one another in a very non-threatening, non-competitive way—which she points out is gender neutral. “This is the way women tend to be, but it's one of the reasons we are getting more male members of the WDS, particularly amongst some of the young men,” says Dr. Waldorf. “When we raise the level of quality and ethics in our specialty, it helps all of us. And I think that's critical and that's what we recognize in the WDS.”
What is the significance of the WDS to women who are new to the specialty?
In terms of issues that young women are dealing with, Dr. Waldorf stresses that balance in life is critical for women. “Every patient I have, and every colleague of mine, is dealing with where they want to see themselves and how they do everything,” Dr. Waldorf explains. Importantly, Dr. Waldorf observes that learning how to delegate is critical at a young age, particularly for women. “We're taught at an early age that we need to do everything and to do everything well, and we don't hand things to other people.” On the other hand, “Men learn to delegate at an early age, and I think women have to start learning that too,” she observes.
What is your advice for clinicians who want to integrate cosmetic procedures into clinical practice?
“My number one recommendation for anyone practicing clinical dermatology and wanting to get into cosmetic procedures is to get well trained,” says Dr. Waldorf. She points out that while this might seem obvious, being well trained is about more than having a representative from a pharmaceutical company show you how to use a device. “You really need to attend specialty meetings, especially some of the smaller and more intimate ones, where you can learn from experts how to evaluate patients,” she explains. “We all know that on-label recommendations for fillers, toxins, and even lasers don't define the way we always practice or should be practicing,” notes Dr. Waldorf. Therefore, she recommends for younger clinicians to try securing a fellowship or perhaps a mentorship award from the WDS or the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, as these would allow clinicians to spend time with experienced physicians who can teach and mentor them.