VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT – Sharing expertise all over the world – How Dr. Susan Boiko gives back
As a pediatric dermatologist, Susan Boiko, M.D., can recall clearly what it was like to be new to medicine, new to dermatology and new to working with children.
That’s why she’s been volunteering with MAVEN Project since 2022. She loves to share her hard-earned knowledge with the frontline providers who may not have access to dermatologists. The nationwide shortage of dermatologists isn’t new, but it’s especially pronounced in rural areas and even when patients can access a specialist, they may wait months for an appointment.
Boiko didn’t always want to be a pediatric dermatologist. But at a young age, reading books about a doctor’s experiences in the jungle inspired her to pursue life as a primary care physician. But it wasn’t easy. Only about 10% of doctors at the time were women.
Having worked at both summer camps and as a Girl Scout leader in her youth, Boiko knew she loved working with kids. She joined the Air Force and became a pediatrician. It was during that time that she saw firsthand how many children had skin conditions, and how little guidance there was on addressing those problems.
After observing so many rashes, moles and birthmarks, she completed a dermatology residency and joined the faculty at the University of Cincinnati as a pediatric dermatologist. She then spent most of her career as a general dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego where she continues to serve as a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.
Her four decades of experience in both practice and teaching make her an ideal volunteer for MAVEN Project.
“These providers are so hard-working,” she shared. “I love to help them identify rare conditions and understand what common issues they can confidently recognize and treat, or what problems need a specialty consultation in-person. Too often, dermatology patients assume it’s nothing and don’t want to be a bother, so even providers really need reassurance about next steps in diagnosis and treatment.”
And beyond econsults, Boiko has also led continuing medical education sessions and is active in MAVEN Project’s volunteer Narrative & Humanity writing group.
MAVEN Project isn’t the only place Boiko volunteers her time. She’s also consulting internationally on rare and complicated dermatology cases in countries like Egypt and Indonesia. Beyond that she works locally assisting clinics with skin cancer checks and homeless outreach, as well as mentoring medical students who are applying to dermatology residencies. But her newest role is leading the new American Academy of Dermatology’s Camp Discovery branch in southern California, where children living with a chronic skin condition can partake in the joys of a traditional camp experience.
When she’s not volunteering, Boiko loves to travel, read mystery novels and spend time with her husband and three children.