I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tanya Kormeili is a nationally recognized, Board-certified dermatologist, educator and consultant in the field of dermatology. As a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, she brings together intensive clinical expertise with a dedication to providing her patients with a superior experience at her practice as well as an interest in educating the public on the most crucial areas of dermatology.
Dr. Kormeili was born into a family that had two special grandmothers. They both helped form who she became as a young woman. First grandmother was an avid reader, a scholar for her time, and always looked for science, much like Dr. Kormeili’s dad. The maternal grandmother was a natural healer in her home town and had a strong sense of “helping her community!”
Together, they shaped her passion for education, scholarly pursuit, as well as medicine and the need to help the community. She felt that it was her destiny to go into medicine.
In talking to the doctor, she laughs at this question saying, “Being a doctor, there is no shortage of funny stories when it comes to humanity and medicine.” I think it is often in retrospect that we find things funny, because at the time going through it is often just challenging! I remember my first night as an intern. It was so rough taking overnight call at the hospital. Everyone was so sick and hard to stabilize 14 patients that were all so critical under my care. Finally, at 3 am I went to the “call room” to get a little shut eye. At 3:30 the nurse on the night shift had me paged. I returned the call, semi-awake really, to hear someone calling me by my first name, Tanya! I was confused. Was this a personal call? I realized quickly I was being hazed and challenged by the female nurses. She wanted me to know “who was in charge!” She made up an excuse that I asked for “accu-checks” (test the patient’s sugar) just once a day, and they usually do that “two times a day” as I was corrected. So, I asked her, “what is the patient’s sugar now then?” She said, “I have not checked!” Strange I thought. No problem, I said. Please check right now and call me back. I then got up and corrected the order to twice a day as requested. She was not happy at all at the thought of getting out of her chair to do this! But, reluctantly she did it. I told her after she called me with the readings how much I appreciated her help. I told her not to EVER fear paging me in the future, as I will be always happy to do whatever it takes to make my patients’ care exceptional. The next morning (as in 2 hours later), I overhead her telling the other nurses not to ever mess with me! After I returned home (I worked a 36 hour shift!), I bought a huge pie for my next night on call. At the switch of the nurses to the night shift, I showed up with the big pie and said, “If we are going to be up all night, we might as well not go hungry!” I made friends with the bully nurse just like that. We can laugh about it now. At the time, I was pretty annoyed!
I think my laughter all day long! I have a mother and daughter team that do lots of cosmetic procedures in my office, and as such they are often sitting quietly in the room with the numbing cream before we start the treatment. Neither the mom or the daughter knew that the other was also in the office on the same day, given our strict confidentiality policy. They were talking to each other and had no idea they were in adjacent treatment rooms until I walked in and started to laugh and chat with one of them. My laughter and joy at seeing each patient is what I am told sets us apart. I care. I truly give each person my 100% in caring for their health and beauty, and this familiarity and joy makes an impression.
It is so exciting now! After a decade of dreaming, I am setting up the Derm &Rejuvenation Institute I always envisioned. We are so busy with construction of the new gorgeous, spacious, bright and elegant new space! It is also a great time to re-evaluate all the technology we place in our office, from lasers, to electronic health records, to all the systems in place to make things efficient. It is no longer the days of paper charts, handwriting and inefficient long lines in the doctor’s office. We use the state of the art in everything, not the newest fad, but gold standards in technology and healthcare. We have new technologies being installed and we are training hard to in learning how to use them!
I think tech can make and break healthcare at the end! I have been the CEO of my company for a decade now. I have seen great products launched and failed, not because of the product quality itself, but because of the execution. In my opinion, all successful companies touch human lives, personally! Tech has a way of hiding behind “machines and programs” and loses the human angle. If you want humanity to use your tech, be human first. People invest in people. That has been my experience as a business owner has never really spent much money on marketing, or useless ploys and gimmicks to get others interested. There is a human passion behind every product, let it shine!
Very true! They say it takes a village to raise a child. I have to say it takes a bigger village to make a truly great doctor. If I thank one person, it would be an insult to the rest of the village. At the risk of sounding like the “Academy of Awards,” I have to say I have so many people to thank. I have mentioned my lovely grandmothers earlier. Starting from my parents who are selfless immigrants, that have sacrificed everything to give me a life in this country. My sister who is my partner in crime since her birth that has enthusiastically supported my vision always. My mentors and educators in all the 13 years of education after high school and the ones for the 12 years before that. I have to thank my staff for supporting me to care for patients despite how hard the day is. I have to be thankful for the patients who trust me, and share their stories with me, allowing me to help others and perfect my craft. I have to thank my husband who is courageously always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Finally, I have to thank my daughter who is my inspiration to build a better world every day.
I think as a dermatologist I get to cure cancer every day and bring comfort to patients and their families. I bring joy and beauty to those undergoing cosmetic treatments and bask in the confidence they gain from being the best version of themselves. I have been able to use my success to contribute to various charities, be on advisory boards for humanitarian organizations and do medical missions to the third world. I feel that I live a blessed life because I take pleasure from giving of myself to others, and my world is beyond my four walls.
I think the introduction of electronic medical records had changed the “face to face” interaction between patients and doctors tremendously. It has its benefits in that we no longer have to look for medical paper charts frantically in the office. If the patient calls, we look up their records right away, and not have to call back after we locate the chart, whether it is on the doctor’s desk or reception area, or simply filed back! It is easier to prescribe medications and keep a record of what patients are using as well.
However, the hardest change is in the actual rooms. I remember as a resident sitting in front of the patient with the computer situated between us! The patient was sharing all these painful details of her health issues in tears, and I just wanted to sit with her and hold her hand, not type like a maniac! In an effort to overcome this impersonalized touch from technology, we have used tablets in the hands of assistants to help record many of the details while I personally care for the patient in front of me.
My grandmother taught me this: “When you are in a position to help, help. When you need help one day, God will send you angels to help you back.” It is the philosophy to give when you can, without expecting that same person to give you back exactly, but the universe to care for you in return!
I just finished reading Tony Robbins financial books. I found it amusing that an “average” person tackled the intricate world of finance to help other average people make sense of it. I think if he was up to the challenge of tackling the crazy world of healthcare to help others, I would be game to help him!
Originally published at medium.com