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Dr. Phillip McKee's Blog

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Overseas experience


Dr. Phillip McKee

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After I left Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, I spent 3 months reporting all of the dermatopathology in the Department of Pathology at the Wits University Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa as a guest of Wayne Grayson. What an amazing experience. Having left the Ivory Tower of Boston where melanocytic pathology and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma were my bread and butter, I entered a whole new world. I was reminded very quickly as to why I had embarked on a career in dermatopathology and why I loved the specialty so much. The range of material that I reported on daily couldn’t have been more different. Every week I saw examples of bacillary angiomatosis and both chancres and lesions of secondary syphilis regularly appeared in my signout. Cytomegalovirus infection was an almost daily experience. Kaposi’s sarcoma was routine and almost invariably associated with other pathology such as cryptococcosis infection, bacillary angiomatosis etc. It reminded me that in HIV/AIDS patients there was almost invariably evidence of multiple diseases in any one patient. Histoplasma infection, granuloma inguinale and Toxoplasma infection were additional exotica that I encountered. Part of my responsibilities included weekly dermatopathology lectures and slide seminars for the pathologists in the Department and also the private practice industry in addition to pathologists from Pretoria. It was wonderful to lecture to such an enthusiastic group of people who never let me finish when I was due to. I mention all of this to encourage junior staff- registrars/residents/fellows to give a lot of thought to follow my example and spent a little time abroad in Africa or India etc before embarking on their future career. It will certainly put dermatopathology into perspective and in addition give an opportunity to meet people and make new friends in less affluent societies. I look back on those 3 months as such a rewarding experience in addition to being so grateful for the kindness and generosity of the very many people that I had the privilege of meeting while in South Africa.
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Dr. Mona Abdel-Halim

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This is a very lovely blog Dr McKee. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to see cases from different parts of the world as this definitely expands our knowledge and opens our mind to diseases and entities that we read about only in textbooks. I was thrilled last summer when I attended the dermatopathology Summer Academy in Graz, Austria and this summer when I attended the first dermatopathology course in Ponferrada, Spain as I had a great opportunity to see melanomas and spindle cell tumors which represent two areas that I don't see a lot in Egypt. I wish one day I can visit you Dr McKee and spend some time with your wonderful cases,,
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Dr. Hafeez Diwan

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You make a terrific point. Travel does broaden the mind. We get so wrapped up in the specifics of our geographic practice that large sectors of dermatopathology remain invisible to us. I would love to be able to do what you did. Maybe one day...
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Dear Phillip, sometimes we do not need to travel that much in places like in Mexico. In the private practice it is almost all melanocytic, but in the Academic Insititutions I can be delighted with wonderful cases of mycobacteria, scabies, KS, and more.
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