Just when you think everything in your life is figured out — ducks in a row, t’s crossed i’s dotted — a bunch of college kids on the other side of the room start cutting up skin samples and, suddenly, your whole life changes.
Granted, it’s not something that happens to people every day. But it happened to Dr. Melinda Cushing, the new physician at Columbia Crest Dermatology in The Dalles.
There she was, on her way to earning a doctorate degree at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. Then she wound up sharing a lab with dermatology students getting hands-on experience in skin biopsy methods, tissue dissection and skin grafting. They were happily handling all kinds of medical scenarios that suddenly became very appealing to the chemical and biological engineering student.
“It sounded exciting, putting a stethoscope around your neck and rushing to help someone,” says Dr. Cushing, The Dalles’ first full-time dermatologist.
So she shifted course and earned a medical degree. She just completed her residency at Oregon Health & Science University’s Department of Dermatology, and is still a member of the OHSU faculty. That affiliation will give her access to both Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s and OHSU’s extensive resources to find the best treatment options for her patients.
Dr. Cushing says she’s happy to be living in The Dalles with her puppy, Timber. The environment is similar to high-desert places in Colorado, she says.
“Everyone here seems grounded. and it will be fun to get to know them,” she says.
The skin specialist expects to see every kind of case there is in the Northwest, from skin cancer to acne, rashes to mole removals, burns and other conditions affecting hair, nails and skin. Whatever it is, she wants people to feel comfortable seeking her help.
“No corn is too small,” she says, with a laugh. “I really just want to help people enjoy a better quality of life.”
Dr. Cushing says her best advice on skin care is to wear sun screen when outdoors, though she hasn’t seen that many signs of over tanning yet.
“One thing about Oregonians, they don’t mind being pasty,” she says. “It’s kind of a dermatologists dream.”
The Columbia Crest Dermatology clinic is open Monday through Friday. Clinic staff will also be conducting cosmetic clinics at Water’s Edge in the near future.
To make an appointment with Dr. Melinda Cushing, please call 541.506.6930.