College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific alumni Warren Peterson, DO ’87, and his son Michael Peterson, DO ’00, gave words of encouragement and advice to Western University of Health Sciences students interested in dermatology during a presentation on March 19, 2013.

The father-son duo talked about past cases and gave advice about entering dermatology, which Michael called the best profession.

“I think it’s wonderful because you get to see what you treat,” Michael said. “They come back in two weeks and it’s gone or it’s better.”

Dr. Michael Peterson graduated from COMP in 2000 and practices at Aspen Dermatology in Spanish Fork, Utah. He advised students going on clinical rotations to be descriptive when they are reporting their findings to the attending physician.

“Don’t just say there are red bumps and they’re itchy,” Michael said. “I want you to understand where the action is. Where is the disease?”

There is a lot of interest in dermatology but few residency spots. Michael told students to find dermatologists interested in writing papers and conducting research, and offer to help.

“Get on board their project. Dermatologists look after each other and do a lot of networking,” he said. “If they like you when you rotate, or if you help them on a paper or help them get a research project done, they’re going to spread the word to other colleagues.”

Dr. Warren Peterson, who graduated from COMP in 1987 and is performing full-time mission service in Southern California as an area medical adviser for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told students to brace themselves for the very small percentage of patients who are difficult.

“Whether you become a dermatologist or any other kind of practitioner, 90 percent of your patients are going to love you because of who you are, and because you care,” he said. “That’s what you are going to be when you get out of here. You are going to be caregivers.”

A small percentage of patients will come and go depending on their insurance and circumstances, and 1 percent will give you trouble, he said.

“That 1 percent is going to make you want to give up your profession. Don’t do it,” he said. “It’s tough to slough it off. That 1 percent will stick with you the rest of the day. You’ve got to move on, and that’s a very hard thing.”

But dermatology is a great profession, and he still enjoys what he’s doing, Warren said.

“Learn the art of medicine,” he said. “Take care of your patients. Don’t worry about the extraneous things – cars, houses, whatever. Care for people and love people. You’ll be a great physician.”

The presentation was organized by the Dermatology Interest Group. The group wanted to get the best of the best, and the Petersons also happen to be COMP graduates, said second-year COMP student Faraj Mourad, president of the Dermatology Interest Group.

“They were COMP students. They did the same thing we did, and they’re very successful,” Mourad said. “I thought that would be very encouraging.”

Dr. Warren Peterson and his wife established a WesternU scholarship, and he has mentored and steered several students to COMP.

“We feel we owe something to WesternU. This is part of our payback,” he said. “We have a loyalty to the WesternU family.”