Women in Medicine Fighting COVID-19: Nathalie Zeitouni, MD
In honor of this year’s Women in Medicine and Science month, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix has asked a few faculty to share their inspiring stories and work that is helping our community through the coronavirus pandemic.
Meet Nathalie Zeitouni, MD
To help dermatologists manage their practice and care for patients during the coronavirus pandemic, Nathalie Zeitouni, MD, FAAD, and collaborators across the country provided their perspectives on the recommendations for treating skin cancers, which were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Dr. Zeitouni is a professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at U.S. Dermatology Partners.
Describe your experience working during the pandemic.
In the beginning, it was really challenging, because we all had to very quickly adjust to a situation we had never experienced. We had to figure out if we could stay open, which we did; how many patients could we see during a day; what were the best ways to keep our patients, providers and staff safe; and how to better incorporate telemedicine into our practice. The transition period was the most challenging in terms of logistics, but once we had a plan, then we were able to proceed with it, and it worked out well.
What advice or words of encouragement do you have for other physicians during this time of uncertainty?
My advice for physicians is to remain focused as much as possible on what we do, which is to take care and support patients. Reassure patients that we are still here for them, we are open, we will take care of them and make their visit as safe as possible. As physicians, if we keep the focus on patient care and taking care of each other, then we will get through this situation.
What would you like the community to know about your work during this time as a woman in medicine and science?
I’d like the community to know that our commitment to excellent patient care hasn’t changed. We are still here; we are still highly committed to our patients; and we are doing everything possible. We are also continuing to teach, mentor and do clinical research. We feel grateful for our wonderful patients and all our amazing medical team.
What does your day-to-day look like right now?
My day is very much the same in terms of procedures, but some things have changed. There has been changes in PPE, to ensure our patients and physicians and staff remain safe. Due to the virus, we are gowned, wearing masks and face shields, we can’t shake hands or hug patients, but we try to spend more time with each patient to reassure them and hear their stories and feelings regarding the pandemic.
Describe your recent publication relating to COVID-19.
A lot of my research focuses on skin cancer in terms of treatment and prevention. Specifically, how can we optimize management and find new ways to combine therapies for improved outcomes. This specific article published in the Journal of Academy of Dermatology was a multi-institute effort from dermatologists and Mohs surgeons who see skin cancer patients. We were in different parts of the country and were in somewhat different situations at that time. Some of us were hit harder with the coronavirus, some were in academic medical centers, and others were in private practice. We all came together to discuss how we were dealing with the pandemic and share our perspectives on recommendations and advice to best serve patients and the community during this time. At the end of the day, a lot of it depends on the individual patient and physician; however, it’s important to have some type of general guidelines during this time.
About the College
Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 593 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,400 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.