The importance of a supportive family resurfaced for Dr. Lisa Flegel when she was a medical student helping a parent understand exactly how to apply a steroid cream to treat a 6-year-old’s eczema. The boy sat in the exam room of a community dermatology practice, itching all over and looking miserable. But the next week, thanks to the care of his dad, he came back to the office a different kid.
“The boy bounced into the room, leapt onto the exam table and grinned,” recalls Lisa. “He wasn’t itchy and his skin was clear, not red and inflamed like at the first appointment.”
Experiences like this inspired Lisa to specialize in dermatology. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine’s Northern Medical Program in the spring and is now continuing her medical training at UBC as a dermatology resident.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her medical training was interacting with patients, educating them about effective treatments for the skin, hair and nails, which can impact not only health, but also confidence, self-esteem and quality of life. “I really try to focus on patient-centered care by working with patients to understand their illness and to create a management plan together, so they are active players in their care. This is important to me,” says Lisa.
Last year, Lisa was one of 125 medical students who received a bursary of $1,750 from Doctors of BC. The association provided $218,750 in bursaries last year, providing assistance to medical students who demonstrate financial need.
Lisa grew up in a small town and places a high value on time spent with family. The Doctors of BC bursary helped her cover the cost of flying home to Bella Coola to visit her parents and to Prince George to visit her brother and her boyfriend during her fourth year of medical school, when she was doing electives across the province.
“Medical school is undoubtedly busy, and while I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, it can become overwhelming,” says Lisa. “Being able to spend time with my family and friends in my free time is a way that I find the work-life balance.”
Beyond the financial support she received, Lisa appreciates Doctors of BC’s contributions to events for UBC medical students such as the CaRMS match celebration and support of graduation. Doctors of BC even brought a dermatologist to Prince George as part of Find Your Match, a networking dinner where Northern Medical Program students had the opportunity to talk with physicians in a casual setting about what their specialty is really like.
When Lisa finishes her residency, she plans to establish a diverse, full-service community dermatology practice where she will provide longitudinal care to patients of all ages and teach medical students. She may even move back to Prince George close to her family.