In her book, “All About Love: New Visions,” feminist scholar and cultural critic bell hooks describes love not as a feeling or a passive occurrence, but as an active choice “to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”

Dr. Markus Boos at the lake
Markus Boos, MD, PhD
Love may feel like a funny thing to talk about in the context of medicine and medical education, as we are often encouraged to be inoffensive care providers: knowledgeable, polite and efficient, but free of feeling. In contrast, sharing who we are as individuals and investing our whole person in the care of patients and colleagues may be frowned upon, characterized as “unprofessional” or “emotional.”

I am a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, and I have wondered what it would look like to create a culture in medicine that was informed by a love ethic. Hooks herself provides us guidance, noting that love requires “responsibility, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, trust and honest communication.”  Doing this is not necessarily an easy task, requiring us to unlearn maladaptive ways of interacting and communicating, and asking us to be forgiving, vulnerable and honest with one another. Moreover, it asks us to be understanding of ourselves, while acknowledging our individual and communal imperfections. Finally, a community defined by love is also one rooted in justice, service, and a commitment to creating opportunity for those we serve.

At UW Dermatology, we are committed to displaying such love by supporting our residents’ unique career pathways while also allowing them to lead fulfilling personal lives. UW Dermatology is invested in helping our members achieve work/life balance so that they can feel excited to teach, learn and provide clinical care each day. As a leader of the residency program, I prioritize and will continue cultivating the following values, which I see embodied by our residents every day:

Acceptance: to see others as their whole selves and work to limit preconceived notions and biases

Honesty: to prioritize truthfulness and transparency when working and communicating with others

Accountability: to take responsibility for our actions and recognize missteps as opportunities to learn and grow

Cooperation: to reject antiquated ideas of individual success and extend ourselves to support one another in our personal and professional journeys

I would encourage you to explore our website and see how our values manifest: within our overarching commitment to educational excellence are small “applause moments,” organized wellness events and sustained investments in resident well-being via extended parental leave or exceptional experiences, including tech internships. At the end of your training, we hope that you look back on your time at UW Dermatology as a singular experience that was rigorous, rewarding and supportive of your career and life goals.

I feel strongly about the love ethic that characterizes UW Dermatology because I have experienced it myself (including love from our residents!), and it has allowed me to blend my personal and professional lives to create a fulfilling career as a queer doctor supporting and advocating for sexual and gender minority youth. Helping identify and create the ideal career is my goal for each of our residents, no matter their background or aspirations. Inevitably there will be bumps in the road as we thoughtfully work to understand each person’s perspective and story and incorporate these narratives into a larger communal whole that centers growth, justice and service.  Our work is always in progress, but I pledge to protect, promote and nurture all of the aspects of your identity that define you. Above all, my goal is to make sure that you feel loved and supported to become the best version of “you” possible.

If being a part of rigorous work that prioritizes personal and community growth speaks to you, I hope that you spend some time getting to know UW Dermatology and will consider applying to our residency training program. I look forward to meeting you!

Markus Boos, MD, PhD
UW Dermatology Residency Program Director