Dr. Thrower's Rich Complexion Blog

Be a... Dermatologist

December 19, 2014

Originally posted on LebronJames.com, July 12, 2013

Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? Background?

I had a very humble beginning. I was born in 1959 in Miami, Florida. My mother was single at the time of my birth, but married when I was about two years of age and had two more children: my sisters, Lavette and Keisha. We lived in a modest home but it was filled with God, love and traditional family values. I attended the local public schools, church, and played basketball in my free time and competitively.

At what age did you decide you wanted to be a doctor? What or who played a major role in your decision-making?

My interest in medicine began when I was a small child when my mother took me to work with her in the hospital where she worked as a cafeteria attendant. She introduced me to some of the friendly doctors that spoke to me about their experiences as a physician. They sparked an interest in me for the medical field. I felt that I could also someday help people like the doctors I met.

As a young adult, my aspirations were focused on playing basketball in the NBA. I was awarded a basketball scholarship at the College of the Canyons, in Valencia California. During my freshman year, my biology teacher convinced me that I had the intellectual ability to do anything I wanted to do. He helped me realize my potential was greater than I thought and that my future was not limited to basketball. At that time, I started my journey in the medical field to become a doctor although I never abandoned my love for the game of basketball.

How difficult was medical school? Did you ever feel like giving up?

School in general was difficult. In my first semester of college, I realized that the education I received in public school did not prepare me for the academic demands on a college level. I was placed on academic probation and was actually told not to return to the school. I refused to be rejected and fought to stay in school. As part of the academic corrective action, I was forced to take remedial classes to strengthen my academic knowledge and skills. I worked very hard to fill in the gaps in my educational foundation, learn new material and maintain stellar performance with the basketball team to satisfy my scholarship obligations. I was successful in doing so. Thereafter, I continued to face multiple obstacles every step of the way and on every level but I refused to give up on my goal, my purpose. I was able to overcome each challenge and push closer to my goal.

The lowest point in my journey, which was also the time I thought I would not achieve my goal, came when I was faced with the National Board of Medical Examiners. My first failed attempt to pass the exam resulted in academic probation. As a consequence, I was only allowed to continue my studies as a part-time student. My second failed attempt to pass the exam was even more devastating. After I failed the board exam for the second time, I was not allowed to register for classes for a full academic year and I had to independently study for the exam. I felt ostracized and alienated. Nonetheless, I was even more determined. I moved into my friend’s summer home by myself and for an entire year, I dedicated all of my time to study for the exam. I was in pure isolation and determined to achieve my goal. My third attempt to pass the National Board Examination was successful with a score of 90% accuracy!

What was your first job experience like after post-graduate study?

At the completion of my internship in Washington DC, I returned to Miami. My first job as a physician was in a nursing home and completing life insurance physical examinations.

After multiple employment applications, interviews, disappointments, I was offered a position with a dermatologist. This experience opened the doors to my own path in dermatology. As I worked with this dermatologist, I noticed that African Americans patients and other patients with ethnic skin were made to tolerate so many skin problems due to the lack of knowledge. I believed that we do not need to endure life with skin conditions or imperfect skin. In 1991, I opened the first dermatology office that specialized in Black and Ethnic skin disorders, in Miami. In 1994, I began to develop the Heritage Skin Care product line to treat common skin care conditions in Black and Ethnic skin.

What’s your daily schedule like?

My medical office hours are open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM for two Saturdays of every month. During the office hours, I dedicate time to examine patients, manage the Dr.Thrower’s Skin Care (formerly known as Heritage Skin Care) business, and address medical aspects of the products line. In the evening, I mostly dedicate my time to my family although there are instances that the Dr.Thrower’s Skin Care (formerly known as Heritage Skin Care) business requires me to attend evening meetings or even travel. During the Miami Heat season, I dedicate time to address the needs of the players according to the Heat schedule.

What led to your working with professional athletes and more specifically the Miami Heat?

I was referred to the Miami Heat organization by one of my patients that was a well-known local news anchor, which was well-connected to the Miami Heat organization. He noticed that some of the Miami Heat players had the same unresolved skin conditions that I resolved for him. He shared his experience with the team trainer. Thereafter, I was accepted as member of the Professional Team Physicians (a group of physicians of different specialties that treat professional athletes) for the NBA’s Miami Heat.

Outside of the Miami Heat have you worked with any other athletes or celebrities that you can tell us about?

I have many high-profile athletes and celebrities although due to patient-doctor confidentiality rights, I am not at liberty to release any specific names.

What’s the industry salary range for dermatologists?

The salary range in dermatology is approximately $205,000 to $308,000.

What three tips would you give to students looking to specialize in dermatology or any other medical field?

Must be purpose driven, expect setbacks and convert them into set-ups, and have faith in God’s promise.

How important is networking within the medical field?

Networking allows you to share both personal and professional experiences. It is very helpful to know that your experience is not unique.

Will creams and medicines really work to clear up my skin or am I better off just changing my diet?

Creams and medicines are effective in the treatment and management of most skin disorders. Although most conditions in dermatology are chronic.

What should we have asked you and why?

Why did I choose dermatology as my area of practice? As a young teenager and through my adult years I had many skin problems. I tried various over-the-counter products to reduce my acne and none of them worked well with my type of skin. My dream was not only to help eliminate my skin problems but others as well. God gave me acne in 1975 so I could be an asset to others today.

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