Doctors spin touching DermTales

Experiences leave an indelible mark.

From left to right: Steven Kenneth Shama, MD, MPH, FAAD, and Robert Dazé, DO.
From left to right: Steven Kenneth Shama, MD, MPH, FAAD, and Robert Dazé, DO.

Storytelling can trigger emotional responses, put a face on an issue, and connect and humanize us. During Sunday’s P151 – Plenary, two doctors shared their poignant DermTales and resultant lessons. Steven Kenneth Shama, MD, MPH, FAAD, and Robert Dazé, DO, highlighted experiences that left an indelible mark on them, dramatically impacting their careers and lives.

Touched by the silence

In his address, Dr. Shama recalled a video presented at the 1993 AAD Plenary that put a spotlight on the then-newly launched Camp Discovery, a summer camp for kids ages 10-14. During the 1993 Plenary, he experienced a most dramatic pause that he said touched his heart and then guided him in his daily life.

The video proved to be “heartbreaking and heartwarming,” he said. The children clearly loved the camp because perhaps for the first time they saw other children “who looked just like them.”

Dr. Shama was touched by the innocence of the campers and their sheer joy. By the end of the video, he said he was a puddle of tears, which he had to wipe away with his tie because he had no tissues. The inherent beauty of the concept and effort touched him on a deep level.

As the second speaker, an NIH researcher, approached the dais following the video, he paused. After a protracted, quiet moment, he said, “May I go on?” Dr. Shama was clearly not the only one needing to compose himself after seeing the Camp Discovery video.

The “pause” stuck with him. “I was touched forever. I now use the ‘pause’ with my patients. I pause and then I speak my truth.”

Dr. Shama said, “My message: Take a breath. Take a pause. Interject your humanity.”

A summer to remember

Robert Dazé, DO, dermatology chief resident, PGY-4, at HCA Healthcare/USF Morsani College of Medicine GME at Largo Medical Center in Florida, took attendees on a sentimental journey to AAD’s Camp Discovery.

During his clinical rotations as a fourth-year medical student, Dr. Dazé met a dermatology resident who encouraged him to volunteer as a camp counselor the summer before intern year.

He soon found himself confronted with a cabin full of “hormonal” boys, a position he found both challenging and rewarding. In the weeks that followed, he would lead the boys through a mix of activities, including camp crafts, horseback riding, and dodgeball. The experience culminated in a skit for the camp’s talent show, with a lip-synced rendition of “The Middle” by Zedd.  

“To this day, the best week of medical school was my week at Camp Discovery,” Dr. Dazé said. “The experience afforded me the opportunity to connect with these kids on a more personal level. This was one week of their lives where they could leave their past insecurities aside and enjoy being themselves.”

An even deeper impression was made on Dr. Dazé when he received a personal and heartfelt note of thanks from one of the young campers at the end of the experience.

“I keep the letter folded in my Bolognia textbook to serve as a reminder of the journey I am on and the power of our profession,” Dr. Dazé said.

“I didn’t become a dermatologist to only treat skin conditions, I became a dermatologist so I could make a meaningful and lasting impact on those around me. Words cannot describe my ongoing gratitude to the Academy for offering this formative and unforgettable experience.” 

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