Friends in High Places

A successful career in dermatology does take a village, Dr. Peredo says. “I believe in the power of support and think it is important to find others who will be there for you, be it a mentor, role model, or group of peers,” she says. “I’m fortunate to form part of the Derm Divas, a wonderful group of female dermatologists across the US who get together, support each other, share advice and act as each other’s sounding boards.”

She continues, “To share the good and the bad with colleagues who are accomplished and generous with their time and advice is priceless. I can’t emphasize enough how significant this group of strong, successful women is to me. “

Marina I. Peredo, MD is an accomplished dermatologist with thriving practices in Manhattan and Smithtown, NY, but there were many who never believed as she started out that she would or could achieve this level of success. This was largely because she had a young son and English was not her first language. She certainly proved the naysayers wrong and continues to do so. Here, Dr. Peredo shares some of the secrets of her success.

Why is the specialty of dermatology attractive to women?

Marina Peredo, MD: Dermatology is attractive to both women and men because it allows for flexibility and encourages creativity. There aren’t many midnight emergencies, which allows you to set your own hours and build a life outside of work. In medical school, my passion was plastic surgery, but I had a young son and knew that if I stuck with plastics, I would work grueling hours and likely miss many of his milestones. Luckily, I found aesthetic dermatology and was able to create a wonderful work life/personal life balance and enjoy my career and my family. I also think dermatology is especially attractive because it allows you to express your more artistic side.

Have you ever faced a bias because you are a woman?

Dr. Peredo: I don’t think I have experienced much gender bias; however, I have experienced a different kind of bias throughout my career. I barely spoke English when I moved to the US from the Soviet Union at 18. In college, I was told I would never get into medical school due to language and cultural barriers. But then I got into medical school. Throughout medical school, I was told I would never get into dermatology. But then I got into a program. I later wanted to do research and met with a male dermatologist who questioned if I would succeed because I had a five-year-old son at home. I obviously didn’t take that job and ended up working with Alice Gottlieb, MD (who later became my mentor) who pointed out that dermatology was perfect for me because I had a child and dermatology would allow me to set my own hours. This helped me realize that bias is really just a matter of perspective and there is always an upside to our differences—be that gender, nationality, etc.

How did your family support you when you were starting your own practice?

Dr. Peredo: My parents supported me through my entire career from medical school to starting my own practice, and I am so thankful for that. Their belief in me, their advice, and unconditional support helped get me where I am today. My son has also been my greatest cheerleader. He has always known me as a physician, and today, he is living my dreams and doing his residency in plastic surgery.

What are some lessons you have learned as a business owner?

Dr. Peredo: There is no magic formula for being a business owner. I have made a few expensive mistakes and have learned from them. At the end of the day, I always trusted my gut, learned from my experiences, and stuck to it because I love what I do. When you are passionate about what you do and are willing to give it your all, I believe you will figure it out.

Who were your mentors along the way?

Dr. Peredo: Mentorship is such an important part of what we do. Early on in my career, I was lucky enough to find Dr. Gottlieb, a brilliant triple-boarded physician and incredible, humble human being who took me under her wing. She took a chance on me even though I was a young mother and from another country. Dr. Gottlieb coached me through my final presentations at Rockefeller University and has continued to encourage me to this day.

I am so proud of Dr. Gottlieb and all of her accomplishments and continue to seek her advice. Twenty-five years ago it was hard to find that type of connection. I encourage everyone to seek out a mentor or group to support and encourage you. I have mentored physicians and currently teach at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Teaching and mentoring others is a blessing, and I only hope to impact someone else’s life the way my mentor impacted and uplifted mine.

What would you tell your younger self about your hard work to get where you are today?

Dr. Peredo: “Your hard work will pay off.” I would also tell my younger self to be more confident in herself and make decisions to please yourself, not others.

If you were speaking to a room of female derm residents, what advice would you impart?

Dr. Peredo: Don’t let anyone’s judgement influence your decisions. Decide what you want, what your true calling is, and go after it. If you want to work in academics, or part time, just do it. At this point, you have already worked so hard, so you should believe in yourself and make decisions based on what will make you happy, not to prove anything to others.