Kerri Liska's lifelong interest in dermatology began in childhood by observing "pretty pink and blue swirls" through the microscope of her dermatologist father.
"He would tell me, 'This is a basal cell or this is a squamous cell carcinoma,' " the new SSDP physician assistant (PA) recalls. "It didn't mean a whole lot to me at the time, but those words entered my vocabulary at a very young age."
After graduating from Boston College with a Bachelor's degree in biology in 2011, Miss Liska, who prefers to be called Kerri, joined her father's No. Falmouth practice as a medical assistant, where she watched the PAs diagnose and treat their own patients, prescribe medications, educate patients, and perform surgery in collaboration with a supervising physician. The ability to work independently with support from a supervising physician piqued her interest and she enrolled in Boston University's 28-month Physician Assistant Program in 2014.
In February, Kerri joined SSDP as the practice's first PA. With guidance from Board certified dermatologists Leera M. Briceno, MD, Amy S. Chang, MD, and Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD, the new team member has quickly become an integral part of the fast-paced practice.
Noting the frequent occurrence of skin cancer among residents of southeastern Massachusetts, Kerri comments that treatment of the disease holds particular interest for her. "(Treating) skin cancer is what I like most," she observes. "PAs are doers. We like to work with our hands and do procedures. I think having the ability to cure a cancer in your patient is amazing and very rewarding."
Caring for people with psoriasis is also high on her list of professional interests, in part because she, too, lives with the condition. "I chose to do my thesis on alternatives to topical medication for mild psoriasis because of my own experience with the disease," she relates. "I also figured knowing a bit more about this disease that dermatologists deal with on a daily basis would help me in my practice as a PA."
The warm welcome she has received from SSDP's patients and healthcare professionals has been an added bonus. "I became a PA in dermatology so I could see and treat patients in a field that needs more practitioners," Kerri explains. "My main goal is to become an excellent clinician who is able to diagnose and treat my patients to the best of my ability."