I have been thinking about the importance of curiosity for the dermatology nurse. A healthy dose of curiosity on our part is likely beneficial to both us and our patients. As dermatology nurses, many of us find ourselves in positions where we may recommend various treatments or procedures to patients, without ever having firsthand experience.
So, recently, I have set out to satisfy some of my curiosity. Now, I will preface these comments with the acknowledgement that nothing I did “for the sake of science” was drastic or irreversible. I am curious but am not known to be a risk taker. I will also mention that this journey is not the first time my curiosity has led me down the path of exploration. In the past, I have been the first person to volunteer to experience a new test, procedure, or study. In fact, I always secretly have enjoyed participating in various new experiences.
My journey started in the summer and fall 2012 when I decided to cross goals off my personal bucket list. I finally donated blood for the first time (and now, I tell people I have A plus blood, because this sounds better to me than A positive!). This experience jump-started my curiosity and ambition to do new things. So, I bought an iPad, cut off half my hair, and decided to get Botox and a spray tan. I know, there’s no apparent rhyme or reason to these events, other than I had been putting them all off—procrastination and the fact that the publisher of JDNA, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, has introduced a new JDNA iPad app. You will see, Lisa Bonsall, the JDNA’s Digital Development Editor, has written a guest editorial about this new app and what it means for you, our readers.
But, back to my story. My pale skin is something that has been constant in my life. I hate to admit to you all that I have freckles, because we all know they represent sun damage. In some ways, they feel like a failure on my part. I think, “If only I were a better dermatology nurse….” But, I do love the color of my skin; it matches my hair, my eyes, and my family. It’s a part of me that I’ve not just accepted but love, even the freckles part.
When I told friends and colleagues I was going to get a spray tan, everyone was very thrilled for me. This approval was good but did make me hesitate. Did they not like me as I am? I let my worries go and just assumed that people like change and are enthusiastic about life. This was me. My friends recounted their experiences with spray tans and told me I would feel “thinner, richer, and healthier.” “Well, by all means, sign me up!” I thought.
My real motivation was that, for years, I have been telling patients to stay out of the sun and do not go to tanning beds. I am sure this is a common refrain in many of your practices, right? I would often tell them that spray tans were a good alternative, but this advice, of course, was not grounded in experience or real-life knowledge. I was encouraged in my boldness during the quest for new experiences to learn that the spray tan would only last “four to five days” and was made from “coffee extracts.” I did not ask too many questions and jumped right in.
I was not fully prepared for the physical or mental/emotional changes that were immediate. The spray tan operator told me we should use “medium” color. She knew this was my first time, and I think she wanted me to see an effect. Immediately after the tan, when I stepped out into the spa, I was just mentally psyched that I had done it! Angela, a pale white woman (okay, Fitzpatrick Skin Type I for all you sticklers for detail out there), was golden. The total experience was a shock to my system, but I felt good. Plus, that four other women were almost practically cheering for me did not hurt. In retrospect, I am wondering, why the cheering for not being pale? But, I will let that philosophical and societal question go for now, content with the knowledge that supportive women were there when I needed them.
About Day 4 after the spray, I, perhaps delusional, thought: “Wow, I almost have caramel skin color like a pop star.” Okay, I confess, I channeled Jennifer Lopez’s skin tone in my mind. Do not laugh; all my friends have already done it for you! But, I am on Day 7 after the spray tan and am still feeling golden. Will I do it again? Probably, but I do not see it becoming a routine. That is okay, though, because the real motivation behind my experience was the ability to know what my patients can choose. Knowing they have options other than UV radiation and sunburns, tanning beds, and potential skin cancer opportunities makes me feel good. I like knowing that this option is available for many of our patients.
I think, my recent experiences give authenticity to my voice when I make recommendations to patients. I can now answer honestly to some questions, “Yes, I’ve done that…and here is what my experience was.” I would encourage many of you to embark on your own personal quest for curiosity. You may find that it will enrich your personal experiences as well as expand your repertoire for patient communication.
In other exciting news, the JDNA will be sponsoring a Writers Workshop at the upcoming DNA conference in New Orleans, LA, on Saturday, April 6, 2013. Have you ever considered writing for JDNA but do not know how to get started? Would you like feedback on a manuscript you have started or are too shy to submit? Both I and the editorial board of JDNA invite both new and experienced authors to join us for breakfast. Bring your manuscript and enjoy the opportunity to receive instant feedback, encouragement, and advice! Class size is limited to the first 50 attendees who register online at http://2013.dnanurse.org/registration. We welcome beginner authors and hope you find this time together useful.
As we continue to grow our Journal, Jonel Gomez, MSN, ARNP, FNP-BC, GNP-BC, a nurse practitioner in a busy oculoplastics office in Florida, is the most recent addition to the editorial board of the JDNA. Her contributions to JDNA will bridge the knowledge of ophthalmology with dermatology. She has many lessons to share with us and our readers, and we are looking forward to her participation. Ms. Gomez says, “I am thrilled to be able to provide support as an author, reviewer, and mentor to the JDNA and dermatology community as a whole while serving on the Editorial Board. There are very few advanced practice nurses that specialize in oculoplastics, and it is my hope that my specialty experience will inspire others and provide new and exciting learning opportunities to our readers that highlight the field of dermatology as it relates to ophthalmology and plastic surgery.” Jonel will be presenting at the upcoming DNA Conference in New Orleans—please join me in welcoming her, should you see her there. Welcome, Jonel; we are glad you have joined us.
On a closing note, I am asking readers to share with us the sun safety measures you are planning for 2013. Summer, and increasing UV indexes, will be here before we know it. I encourage you to write to us and let us know what you, or your offices, are doing in preparation for the upcoming summer. Do you change your messaging to patients in the summertime? If so, how does it change and why? The JDNA looks forward to hearing how you encourage good sun safety measures in your patients.
Happy New Year! Looking forward to hearing from you.
Angela L. Borger