Observership Experience: A Closer Look

September 20, 2021
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Observership Experience: A Closer Look-banner-image

The Skin of Color Society Observership Program offers young physicians and scientists a unique and highly valuable opportunity to learn directly from SOCS mentors, enabling them to acquire academic and/or research skills that will further their careers as future leaders in skin of color dermatology.

This exciting and meaningful program is open to medical students (years 2-4), dermatology residents, fellows, and young dermatologists with fewer than four years since completing residency.

Two recent SOCS Observership Grant recipients shared their experiences with their respective mentors, illustrating the tremendous value and importance of this program.

2021 Observership Award Recipient Autumn Saizan, BS, mentored by Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD, comments,“I consider this fellowship to be one my greatest blessings, as it has given me the tools I need to be a successful dermatologist, colleague, mentor, and friend.”

As expressed in her letter of appreciation, excerpted here, “During the 2021-2022 academic year, I completed the Skin of Color and Pigmentary Disorders Research Fellowship at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California with my mentor, Dr. Nada Elbuluk. During this time period, we completed a variety of projects. This included survey studies, chart reviews, literature reviews, case reports, clinical trials, and textbook chapter, as well as several oral and poster presentations on our work. This fellowship also provided me the opportunity to care for dermatologic patients and become comfortable with the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of basic dermatologic conditions. Common conditions seen included acne, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and hair loss, particularly central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. Finally, this fellowship allowed me to become more involved in various community outreach programs and projects via two organizations created by Dr. Elbuluk, DermRISES (Reaching Inner City Students Through Education of the Sciences) and Dermmunity.”

To read Autumn Saizan’s full message, visit:

2020 SOCS Observership Award Recipient Brittany Feaster, MHS was mentored by Amy McMichael, MD, FAAD, at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In her words, “The Skin of Color Society Observership Grant program provided the platform for an invaluable experience. This amazing opportunity was tremendously impactful in furthering both my personal and career development as I pursue dermatology.  As a student without a home dermatology program, I must seek external opportunities for mentorship, research, and clinical exposure to the field. This program helped facilitate many meaningful opportunities…I was challenged to grow extensively as I learned the nuanced intricacies involved in the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss disorders and other dermatologic conditions. This program not only enhanced my clinical exposure to hair loss disorders and dermatology but also highlighted the importance of this work in the community.”

To read Brittany Feaster’s full message, visit:

Applications for the 2022 SOCS Observership Program are due on December 1.

To learn more and apply, visit:

This program has been supported in the recent past by the SOCS Diversity Movement Fund, including donations from: Urban Skin Rx, EltaMD, SENTÉ, SkinMedica, and the many SOCS members who have made voluntary contributions. Thank you all very much!