Dr. Shauna Goldman, Dr. Ryan Thorpe: Award of Excellence in Dermatology

By Donna Steph Hansard

Dr. Shauna Goldman and Dr. Ryan Thorpe – joint recipients of the 2014 Award of Excellence in Dermatology – both credit their parents and close family in guiding and supporting them throughout their careers and decisions to become physicians.

The two share the prestigious annual award – bestowed to the graduating medical student(s) who has advanced dermatological patient care, research or teaching in a special way, or shows promise for leadership in these areas. Each will receive $500.

Dr. Shauna Goldman and Dr. Ryan Thorpe
Dr. Shauna Goldman and Dr. Ryan Thorpe

Dr. Shauna Goldman

The decision to become a doctor was inspired by Dr. Shauna Goldman’s family while she grew up in El Paso.

“My father is a physician and did his residency at UT Southwestern. My mother’s father was an internist and went to medical school at UT Southwestern,” Dr. Goldman said.  “I always wanted to be a doctor, from a young age. I saw the important contributions they made to our community and wanted to do the same thing.”

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Goldman studied anthropology worked for two summers during college in UT Southwestern’s Biochemistry Department as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program. One of her research mentors was Dr. Steven McKnight, Chairman of the Department.

“Dr. McKnight really instilled in me a love for research,” Dr. Goldman said. “He would always say: ‘Make a discovery today.’ That was a very empowering thing for a young person to hear. Working with him was very important for me in developing confidence in myself as a physician and researcher.”

Dr. Goldman chose to specialize in dermatology during her third year of medical school.

“I realized that the patients who were the most interesting and the most challenging to me were those who presented with an interesting skin finding or had a complex disease that involved skin,” she said. “My dad always said: ‘If you do something that is challenging to you, you will never be bored.’ For me, dermatology is that challenging puzzle and is very rewarding.”

Dr. Amit G. Pandya, Professor of Dermatology, said: “Shauna Goldman is a pleasure to work with. She quickly establishes good rapport with patients, accurately observes skin changes, organizes these changes into morphologic categories and typically comes up with the right diagnosis. Patients genuinely like Shauna, with several mentioning how well she treated them and how thoroughly she examined their skin. She has an excellent command of Spanish and volunteers to help the needy through many organizations. She is following in her father's footsteps, who worked to help the medically underserved in El Paso.”

For Dr. Goldman, going back to her hometown is her lifelong ambition. But first, she will stay at UT Southwestern for her dermatology residency after a one-year internship in internal medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

“My dream is to go to El Paso to practice dermatology,” she said. “It’s a very special place to me. It’s a medically underserved community, especially in dermatology. I look forward to being able to help a lot of people there after my dermatology training.”

Dr. Ryan Thorpe

Initially, Dr. Ryan Thorpe’s career path didn’t include medicine. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in accounting, following in his CPA father’s footsteps. He enjoyed winning college tax team competitions and even attended an additional year of graduate school, planning to attain a master’s degree in accounting.

“But, every day I woke up not looking forward to getting started. It wasn’t the right fit for me,” Dr. Thorpe said. “I realized I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to be a doctor. I needed to be in a more personal career where there is empathy for people and what you can do to help.”

A member of a hard-working, close-knit family of seven, Dr. Thorpe went on a full-time two-year church mission trip after his freshman year of college. He was a member of early morning Bible study groups during high school. His parents, who still live in the Dallas area, often help with his own two children, 3-year-old Braxton and seven-month-old Emma.

“We worked together as a family,” he said. “Every weekend, we were involved in ‘Saturday work parties,’ before we could play. We had family times when we would read and discuss a Scripture, and we played games together. My parents expected a lot of us, but they also were always completely supportive.”

Dr. Thorpe will be doing his residency at Duke University. He and his wife Elaine are looking forward to seeing a new part of the country.

“I am very excited, but it is bittersweet,” he said. “UT Southwestern is amazing for many things, but particularly for dermatology. It is one of the largest and most well-respected programs in the country, and it is hard to leave. But my wife and I were looking for an adventure, and Duke felt like the right fit.”

Dr. Pandya, who also was a mentor to Dr. Thorpe, praised his abilities.

“Ryan Thorpe has an outstanding academic record, but he also has the attributes of an outstanding healer – including compassion, kindness, humility, friendliness and a joy for life,” Dr. Pandya said. “When I worked with him in clinic, my patients commented on how much they enjoyed working with him and that he is going to make a great doctor. Ryan has volunteered to help many individuals his entire life, including underserved patients at a free dermatology clinic in East Dallas.”

Dr. Thorpe attributes much of his recent successes to his parents, his wife, and the physicians he has worked with at UT Southwestern.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without my wife,” he said. “And I owe Dr. (Ponciano) Cruz, Dr. (Kim) Yancey, Dr. (Benjamin) Chong, Dr. Pandya, Dr. (Divya) Srivastava and Dr. (Tara) Rao for their priceless mentoring. I think the only way they’d be satisfied with repayment is if I pay it forward to my patients and the field of dermatology. They are excellent physicians and even better teachers.

“I wouldn’t be surprised one day if I want to come back to UT Southwestern,” Dr. Thorpe said. “It’s hard to leave such a great department. They are smart, kind, and passionate about the field. It’s hard to find that combination.”

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

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