NPF helps build better doctors

| Steve Bieler

Before she became a doctor, Allison Truong self-diagnosed her own psoriasis. She had undiagnosed psoriasis plaques on her elbows and knees in grade school, and scalp and nail psoriasis in middle school. By the time she got to high school, she had done enough reading to diagnose herself.

Truong is a third-year dermatology resident at UCLA who started doing psoriasis research in medical school. “I’m really excited to help psoriasis patients and other patients with similar conditions,” she says. She loves talking with patients. “I’m a clinician at heart. What do patients want? It’s their life. You have to find out what works for them.”

Here’s another thing about Truong: She’s a big believer in NPF and our annual Residents Meeting on Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

Truong enjoys the Residents Meeting because “every year there’s an update on psoriasis. Also, it’s fun. You get to network with the experts.” She appreciates that the lectures and workshops cover everything from the basics to treatments, including handling insurance.

The 2018 meeting, held on October 20 and 21 in Chicago, was her third. “I’ve applied every year of my residency, and every year I got to go,” she says. Truong believes that every resident should go at least once.

The hazing begins

Kristina Callis Duffin, M.D., was at Truong’s first meeting in 2016. “I met her at a breakout session and I was very impressed,” Truong says. She asked Duffin to be her mentor and spent a few weeks shadowing her at the University of Utah in 2017.

Duffin, an NPF medical board member and the co-chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah, gave two lectures at this year’s meeting: “Measures of severity” and “Biologic agents.”

“My first Residents Meeting was maybe 18 years ago in Chicago,” Duffin says. “I remember I was sitting near the front and the presenter picked on me because he knew of my interest in psoriasis. I was in Gerald Krueger’s lab and he always put me front and center in research and in clinical trials.”

(NPF has honored Krueger many times for his commitment to our mission. He is our medical board chair emeritus and professor of dermatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.)

“Last year, when Allison was attending for the second time, I picked on her a little bit,” Duffin says. “I called on her for fun and because I knew she would have a thoughtful response. I take this hazing as a compliment.”

Duffin is enthusiastic about the Residents Meeting, which she refers to as “a boot camp.”

“I very much believe that your residency is the most likely time you are going to learn the science of a disease and how to treat it,” she says. “After your residency, you’re bombarded by other things, whether you’re a researcher or in private practice. This is the prime time to get people on the same page about treatment.”

She also believes that the Residents Meeting helps to fill gaps for doctors from small residency programs. “They might not be able to teach you what you need to know about psoriasis,” she says. “With the Residents Meeting, they can come to us, and we’re happy to have them.”

Duffin, who has chaired and co-chaired this event and who has been on the faculty so many times that she’s lost count, says simply, “I feel honored that people ask me to go.”

Where learning really happens

Abby S. Van Voorhees, M.D., NPF medical board chair and chair of dermatology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, has also been on the faculty many times. “I’ve seen the meeting’s evolution,” she says. And, like Duffin, she gave two lectures at this year’s event: “Optimizing topical therapies” and “Phototherapy and other light sources.”

“At the Residents Meeting you can put what you learn in the context of everything else,” Van Voorhees says. “We compare and contrast more than lecture on a single drug. When we agree, you learn, but when we discuss our small differences, that’s when you really learn. I may lean left, you may lean right, and the nuances show you the different modalities of treatment.”

This fruitful educational experience – Duffin’s boot camp – will return in the fall for the 21st year, helping a new crowd of passionate young doctors advance in their careers and become more effective in treating psoriatic disease.

Video: Improving patient care

Hear Allison Truong, M.D., and Kristina Callis Duffin, M.D., talk about how the NPF Residents Meeting is changing the way physicians interact with patients like you.

Photo: In this still from the video, Truong (left) and Duffin talk shop.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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