Rendezvous with Dr Rashmi Sarkar
Dr Rashmi Sarkar is a teaching faculty of 20+ years in premier medical institutes in India. She is an academician and has empowered and mentored a large number of youngsters and practitioners. She was the President of the Indian Academy of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology in 2022. She is a globally recognized leader among her peers and has been elected as International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) Director of South Asia, Middle East and Africa in 2023 at WCD Singapore.
Q1. As a practising dermatologist for more than a decade now, how do you think dermatology has evolved as a specialization?
I have been in dermatology for more than two and a half decades. As a speciality, it has evolved from just dermatology, venereology and leprology to embrace a lot of dermato-surgery and cosmetic dermatology. From being looked at as a subject with just medical dermatology and infectious diseases, it has evolved into an investigational branch, including dermatopathology and dermoscopy; and has many sub-specialities including pediatric dermatology, geriatric dermatology, trichology and so on. It may be tough to imbibe all in 3 years of postgraduation. So continued learning is important.
Q2. We’d love it if you could share a fond memory or any event that you considered a milestone in your career.
There have been several milestones in my career. But an important one was when I was chosen as one of the international women dermatologists to be celebrated in a live painting by a Canadian artist at the World Congress of Dermatology 2015 at Vancouver by the Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) and Galderma! I represented the internationally known woman dermatologist from Asia, whereas the other 3 were Dr Wilma Bergfield from North America, Dr Marcia Ramos e Silva from Brazil and Dr Christa de Cuyper from Europe. The artist had taken details of our personality and pictures and painted them on a huge canvas, in front of thousands of dermatologists from all over the world coming in and out. It was a huge moment for me, globally, as I come from a very modest background with my late father, Dr. AK Sarkar, being a Professor in Biochemistry at PGI, Chandigarh and my late mother, Mrs. Chhobi Sarkar being a teacher and play therapist. My husband, Dr Srikanta Basu is a Director Professor in Pediatrics. I just did my work with passion.
Q3. What has your experience been like representing India on an international platform in the field?
Way back in 2006, one of my first international lectures as invited faculty was on Pigmentary disorders at the Annual American Academy of Dermatology. I just worked hard and with honesty, with the intent to learn and imbibe from international great people. So I worked in many dermatology organisations including WDS, AAD, SOCS, ISD, ASPCR, ASPD, and ISPD among others. It has been a wonderful experience, especially serving as Chair of the International Mentorship Committee of ISD and also on the Board of Directors in ISD, WDS, and SOCS.
The latest and the biggest is being elected as International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) Director of South Asia, Middle East and Africa in 2023 at WCD Singapore. I have brought a lot of things I learned as an international Board member to the table as President of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) in 2022. At the same time, the international community has appreciated my hard work, fair and inclusive attitude and my ability to voice new ideas.
Q4. What are some skills that upcoming medical students should focus on developing during their training years?
Upcoming medical students need to read a lot and develop their clinical acumen and skills in seeing patients. Our patients are our greatest teachers. They also need to learn empathy and soft skills when dealing with their patients which will stay with them throughout life. Time management and learning to have other interests and hobbies are essential.
Q5. Can you shed light on the research opportunities available in our country both at UG & PG levels?
Research opportunities at the UG level are mostly available at the ICMR level or student exchange programs with foreign universities which they need to find out.
At the PG level, they are available at ICMR, CSIR or sometimes by individual institutes. In Dermatology, research grants are provided by IADVL, the Pigmentary Disorders Society and other societies too, if your proposal is selected. Working on research with a dermatology expert also helps.
Q6. What message would you want to give to the coming generations in the field of Dermatology?
We need to remain true to our speciality and also confident in ourselves. Dermatology at best is a healthy mix of 70 per cent Clinical Dermatology and 30 per cent Aesthetic Dermatology. We must see the patient as a whole and learn to catch clues pointing to internal disease. A good eye is important in dermatology as well as daily honing of our skills. We need to be patient, honest hard-working and less angry.
Dr Rashmi Sarkar
Dr Rashmi Sarkar, President IADVL received the Volunteer of the Year Award from President WDS, Dr Erin Gilbert
Dr Rashmi Sarkar as Regional Director with Board Members of ILDS in 2023
Dr Rashmi Sarkar received International Pioneer Award, WDS in 2023
Dr Rashmi Sarkar receiving Maria Duran Medal from International Society of Dermatology at WCD 2023
Dr Rashmi Sarkar starts Indian WDS with President Dr Wendy Roberts in 2009
Dr Rashmi Sarkar, President, of the Indian Women’s Dermatologic Association with WDS Global Shelter Project with Dr Pearl Grimes
WDS Painting of International Women Leaders- Dr Rashmi Sarkar, Asia at WCD Vancouver 2015