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Vital Signs

Clinical Observation

In this section, we highlight the human side of clinical academic medicine, putting a few questions to a physician at DMS-DHMC.

M. Shane Chapman, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine (Dermatology)

Chapman's clinical interests include the nonsurgical treatment of melanoma, synthetic skin grafting, cosmetic laser surgery, dermal fillers, biologic psoriasis therapy, and dermatology clinical trials. He has been at Dartmouth since 1999.

How did you become interested in dermatology?
I had my first experience with dermatology as an intern. It was fun! As dermatologists, we really, truly help patients multiple times a day, which I did not think I could accomplish in many other specialties. Dermatology is a very positive branch of medicine.

Are there any misconceptions people have about your field?
Yes. Many. Most people (including government officials) think dermatologists are acne-only doctors, that we do not have intensely ill patients, that we never have emergencies, and that skin diseases are easy. It is true that the majority of our patients do have straightforward, diagnosable, treatable conditions, but there are many skin problems that remain a challenge and a concern to patients. When I left internal medicine for dermatology training, my medical mentors told me that I would be bored. It has been 11 years. I am still waiting for that first day of boredom!

What's your favorite nonwork activity?
Golf, mountain biking, and just walking in the woods. Finish this sentence: If I had more time I would . . . Sleep. Read. Spend more time with my children.

What do family and colleagues give you a hard time about?
I can't dance and I am a neat freak! And I need to exercise more.

What's the toughest lesson you ever had to learn?
No matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to like me.

What famous person, living or dead, would you most like to spend a day shadowing?
Thomas Jefferson. He was so much more than a president. He was a builder, an inventor, a thinker, a visionary—a true Renaissance man. Also, I am from Louisiana, so I owe him for buying that land.

If you could travel anywhere you've never been, where would it be?
Africa. Besides the animals, flora, and climate differences, there is something unique and interesting about a continent with less development, less industry, and less commercialism. Who knows, perhaps less is better.

If you won $1 million, what would you do with it?
Pay off my student loans and spend a year in Africa.

What about you would surprise most people?
I am very shy!

What music is in your CD player right now?
Fats Domino, Percy Sledge, U2.

What historical event would you most like to have been present at in person?
The American Revolution. We glorify our past a lot, and perhaps it was indeed a great time to live, but I'd like to see firsthand how hard daily life was then. Those who survived and thrived had to be tough, smart, and optimistic. They wanted more. I think this is where we Americans get our insatiable thirst for more.

What's one thing that you would change about yourself?
To learn to go slower, have more patience, and enjoy each and every moment of every day.

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