Dr. Neil Shear | Toronto, ON
“I’ve found, in medicine, that the routes people take to find their careers aren’t always planned. Often what happens is, along the way, there’s some role model, some person who’s doing something good and interesting, and it makes you think: ‘That’s so cool, I could do that. It's not what I was planning, but I want to try it.’
I actually started off in engineering before going into medicine, because I was so interested in problem-solving. And then, as I studied medicine, I kept seeing over and over again that these life-defining and difficult-to-solve problems that no one understood would so often be referred to a dermatologist. So I did an elective where I got to work with this incredible dermatologist, to get a sense of what he did. I remember being there when a patient came into the room and he looked totally fine and then he took off his shirt and every square inch of him was just completely covered in psoriasis. And the realization struck that this person never gets a minute off from this. It’s not like a headache that goes away. It’s every moment of his life. And this is a problem we can solve.
“With every new patient that I see, they have a present where they feel like they don’t have control. And they want to get to a future where they do have control. There’s a real joy in joining them in building that future and making a difference in their lives.”
And what’s exciting is that we keep having more and more tools to solve these problems. We have more tools for the common conditions but also for the rare and severe diseases like Stevens-Johnson syndrome. It’s like Fleetwood Mac said, tomorrow will soon be here and it’ll be better than before. The future of dermatology is very hopeful, and I try to instill that hope in my trainees and my patients.
With every new patient that I see, they have a present where they feel like they don’t have control. And they want to get to a future where they do have control. There’s a real joy in joining them in building that future and making a difference in their lives. Because these are conditions that may not always be life-threatening, but they are life-defining. If it's seventh grade and you’re going to a new school and you're the guy with pimples... I mean, that dictates your whole life. If there's something that can be done for this person in their vulnerable moment then, wow, what a big difference that makes.”