Elyse Love, Dermatologist at GlamDerm
Elyse Love is a dermatologist at GlamDerm, where she tends to folks with a variety of skin conditions from severe acne or melanoma (a type of skin cancer). In her feature today, she expresses why she enjoys science, the gender gap in the field, and the favorite part of her day: finding solutions with her patients. Learn more about Elyse Love today!
Dr. Love, can you share what excites you about science/medicine, and why did you get into the field?
I’m not sure I understand exactly what draws me to science, but I know that I find it incredibly interesting and cool. In college, I considered many different majors, but none excited me as biology true does. The body is both a mystery and a work of art. It’s really exciting to understand it better.
Why I decided to become a physician is a long, winding road of multiple interests and goals all leading to the same point. I’ve actually wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. That was mostly based off of my love for my pediatrician. In high school, I discovered my love for science and in undergraduate, I discovered my love for one-on-one teaching.
My decision to become a dermatologist is equally complicated and fated. I suffered from severe nodulocystic acne in high school. When my skin was cleared, I realized the enormous impact skin conditions have on self-identify and quality of life.
This piqued my interest in the field and in medical school, I realized that it’s a really fun specialty to practice, with a mix of simple and complex medical cases, surgical cases, and cosmetic cases.
What are some challenges you have faced as a woman of color embarking the medical field? And why do you think there is a gender gap in the space?
For me, the largest challenge I’ve faced in medicine is excelling despite implicit bias. A significant portion of grading in medical school is subjective. I had to work hard to close the cultural divide between the people in charge of my grades and myself, which required me to spend time catching up on movies, bands, and tv shows I was not familiar with in addition to my normal studying.
Related to this, it can be exhausting to exist in spaces where you never truly feel you can be yourself. The gender gap in medicine is complicated and driven by varying factors depending on the specialty. There are the same systemic problems that exist in essentially all professional fields that limit a woman’s rise to power.
In addition to these significant barriers, medicine is a very long career path. Due to the realities and limitations of reproductive biology, women often have children during training and immediately after, which immediately changes their career trajectory compared to a man.
Walk us through a standard day, if any, and your favorite part of your day? (Research, patient-facing, etc.)
I don’t have a standard day. My hours are different every day and the patient population is random. I think this helps to keep life fun!
As a dermatologist, the most common conditions I diagnose and treat include acne, hair loss, pigmentation (dark spots), cysts, and skin cancers. Some of my patients I’ve known for years, and some I see once or twice to fix a problem and that’s it. This means I get to meet a lot of different people in my lifetime, and I’m constantly inspired by my patients’ stories.
My favorite part of my day is patient care for sure. My favorite moments are when I’m talking to a new patient about a particular problem that is causing them distress and I can say “We can fix this, together. You don’t have to worry about this. Trust me. I’ll take care of you.”
I also love when patients come into the office without a garment they’ve been using to shield insecurity, say a wig or lots of makeup.
In addition to medicine, can you tell us what fires your soul? (Your other passions)
Love! I know it’s cheesy, but love and kindness are almost a hobby of mine. I find that the more I practice these virtues, the more I seem to enjoy my life. I also really love learning about anything and everything. I think curiosity is the key to empathy and happiness. I listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, and take tours and classes when I travel.
How do you want to leave your mark on the world?
I want to inspire people to be their true selves, whoever that may be and however that may change with time. I particularly want to inspire black women that they can be whoever they desire to be, not just the stereotypes set by society.
Interviewed by Chary