Dr. Jill Feetham: Award for Excellence in Dermatology

By Jan Jarvis

Dr. Jill Feetham

Dr. Jill Feetham always knew she wanted a career in medicine, but she didn’t know exactly where her ambition would take her.

By her junior year at Texas Tech University, she had no doubts. A personal loss would give her career path a clear direction.

“My aunt passed away from melanoma that year,” said Dr. Feetham, who grew up in The Colony, Texas. “Her death became a driving force for me.”

The experience ignited a passion to educate people about skin cancer, specifically melanoma. The 2012 Award for Excellence in Dermatology recipient understands firsthand about the toll the disease takes on families.

Her aunt was 46 and a mother of two when she was diagnosed with melanoma. Diagnosis to death was very fast – about six months, Dr. Feetham said.

“It showed me how important early detection is,” she said. “It was a wake-up call.”

The dermatology award, which includes a certificate and $1,000, is given to the graduating medical student who has advanced dermatological patient care, research, or teaching in a special way, or who shows promise for leadership in these areas.

Dr. Feetham has a strong track record of leadership. She has held officer positions in the UT Southwestern Dermatology Interest Group and helped lead a melanoma walk team, as well as helped plan Breast Cancer Awareness Week and Patient Advocacy Week at the medical school, said Dr. Amit G. Pandya, Professor of Dermatology.

“Jill does this with grace, humility, maturity, and tactfulness,” Dr. Pandya said. “Beneath this is a sincere belief that we can make a difference in the lives of people by volunteering to help those who are suffering and underserved.”

While volunteering at the Agape Clinic in Dallas, Dr. Feetham saw what a difference she could make in the lives of those who cannot afford health care.

She was especially touched by a young girl with rosacea so severe she was embarrassed to be seen in public. Medication not only corrected the disease, but also restored the girl’s confidence.

Dr. Feetham will spend next year serving an internship at Seton Hospital in Austin before returning to UT Southwestern for her  dermatology residency. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

She credits her mentors – Dr. Kim Yancey, Chairman of Dermatology; Dr. Heidi Jacobe, Assistant Professor of Dermatology; and Dr. Pandya – for providing wisdom and support.

“They were a guiding hand throughout the process,” she said.

Dr. Feetham has worked very hard in research, volunteerism, and leadership, and she has outstanding clinical skills and patient rapport, Dr. Pandya said. “She has demonstrated that she can be a great leader and team player and her academic track record is among the best in our student body,” he said. “She is most deserving of the Award for Excellence in Dermatology.”

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Dr. Pandya holds the Dr. J.B. Shelmire Professorship in Dermatology.

Dr. Yancey holds the Mary Kay Inc. Distinguished Chair in Dermatology.

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