When Arizona Cancer Center member James E. Sligh, MD, PhD, took over as division chief of dermatology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, his top priority was to develop a residency program.
“There is a desperate need for trained dermatologists in Arizona,” said Dr. Sligh. “The need for the program is obvious. We have an aging population in Arizona, and our skin cancer incidence is very high.”
Last year, the Division of Dermatology in the UA College of Medicine’s Department of Medicine received full national accreditation for a residency program in dermatology by the Dermatology Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The three-year program is accepting two new dermatology residents each year to eventually support six residents at a time.
The first residents are Jason DuPont, MD, and Sandra Leyo DuPont, MD. The married couple, both board certified in family medicine, worked in dermatology clinics in Phoenix and Casa Grande for several years before deciding to pursue this residency program.
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“Dermatology is a fascinating specialty with a great mix of medicine and surgery,” Dr. DuPont said. “It’s a very exciting field and there are endless opportunities to learn. Everybody’s skin is unique, and we enjoy the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges each patient brings. Ultimately, what’s most important to us is taking great care of our patients and helping them look and feel their best. That’s what we strive for every day.”
The residents see patients at the Arizona Cancer Center at UMC North and the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System and will get training in medical and surgical procedures, including Mohs surgery, as well as dermatopathology. They will do a pediatric dermatology rotation at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and they will work at affiliated community practices, the Dermatology Center and Pima Dermatology, to learn advanced surgical as well as cosmetic procedures.
“They will increase their levels of autonomy based on their experience,” Dr. Sligh said. “They will take a greater role in patient care as they progress in the program.”
All patients seen by the residents are also seen by an attending physician, so Dr. Sligh knows firsthand how patients feel about the new physicians.
“The response from patients to these new residents has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Patients have been pleased with the thoroughness of the examinations they are receiving.”
As part of their training, residents will also attend conferences, medical education seminars and participate in community outreach efforts, such as conducting free skin screenings at Living in Harmony with the Sun (see page 3 for details).
Once residents complete the three-year program, they must pass the American Board of Dermatology examination to become board-certified dermatologists. Upon finishing the program, Drs. DuPont and Leyo DuPont hope to open their own dermatology practice someday.
“We’re honored to be the first residents in the program and plan to stay in Arizona when we’re finished,” Dr. DuPont said. “Our goal is to provide outstanding dermatologic care for the people of this state.”