Woman of the MonthNovember 2016
Paula Vogel M.D.
Strategic Business Consultant at Skin Specialists of San Antonio
What do you do? I’m a dermatologist who specializes in the removal of high-risk skin cancers using a procedure called Mohs surgery. I also love cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology.
Length of time at this job: I have been a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon for 14 years, a board-certified dermatologist for 24 years.
What is it that you like best about your job? I most enjoy creating a pleasant environment and experience that exceeds my patient’s expectations.
Education/Major: I graduated from medical school at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
What career path led you to where you are today? I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then worked as an RN for four years before going to medical school. After medical school, I completed an internal medicine residency and served as an internist at the 121st Evacuation Hospital in Seoul, Korea, for one year. I was very lucky to be selected for another residency at Walter Reed, this time in dermatology. Following those three years of training, I worked at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, where I was chief of dermatology, and at the San Antonio military hospitals – Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center — for a total of eight years. To become fellowship trained in Mohs surgery and procedural dermatology, I moved to Atlanta for one year for intensive training at Emory University. When I returned to San Antonio, I practiced Mohs surgery in the military, was promoted to colonel, and served as chief of dermatology at BAMC. I retired a few years ago and worked for a bit for another practice and then set up my own in 2010.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A cowgirl!
When did you know that you were in the right place in your career? When I was an intern, I did a rotation in dermatology. I wasn’t expecting much, I suppose, but on the very first day, I was so excited. I made up my mind right away.
Who were your mentors? I had two important professional mentors: Dr. Dirk Elston, a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology, encouraged me to do a fellowship in Mohs surgery; and Dr. Bill James, an international leader in dermatology, who was my residency director at Walter Reed.
How would you describe your personal style? Casual and athletic.
How would you describe your leadership style? Democratic.
What person do you most admire? My mother. She is 88 years old and as sharp as she was 70 years ago. She reads, travels, organizes parties, emails and uses Facebook, does crossword puzzles and has an active social life. On a bad day, she picks herself up, smiles and says, “Tomorrow’s another day.” Like Scarlett O’Hara!
Who has been the biggest influence in your life personally and professionally?
My father, who always encouraged me to further my education, and my husband, who is a great husband, father and partner in life.
What is the best advice that you have ever received? My dad said, “Always be able to take care of yourself.”
What are your goals? To create a positive work environment for patients and staff.
What community groups or not-for-profit groups are you involved with as a volunteer? Skin Cancer Foundation.
What is your favorite thing to do in San Antonio? Biking the trails that the city has opened up along the river, Salado Creek and Leon Creek.
What do you like most about San Antonio? Of course, the people – diverse, humble, proud, strong. To tell you the truth, my favorites are my patients who defended our freedom in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Most people just see some gray hair – I see people who are exceptionally interesting, courageous and full of personality and character. I very much cherish them. As far as San Antonio, the metropolis – I treasure the recent expansions of the linear parks around the city. I love that San Antonio has big city amenities but still has a small town atmosphere.
Do you have a favorite restaurant and dish there? La Fonda on Main/New number #7.
What book/books have you read lately? The Urge to Know, by Jonathan Calvert, a San Antonian who recounts his life as an adventurer and mountain climber. It is such a beautiful book. I recommend it highly.
What is your all-time favorite book? Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.
What is you all-time favorite movie? A Night at the Opera – the Marx Brothers are hilarious.
What type of music do you like? Classical, jazz and country-western music.
What is your favorite relaxation strategy? Mediation and yoga.
People would be surprised to know… that I love to browse the funky secondhand stores on Hildebrand and Blanco.