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    Have plane, will travel: Derm makes monthly trek to volunteer

    Chicago — Dermatologist Marc Boddicker, M.D., is a volunteer faculty member at John Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago. But what makes that especially noteworthy is the fact that he flies his private plane once a month some 900 miles from his practice in Rapid City, S.D., to the inner city Cook County hospital.

    Marc Boddicker, M.D.

    This is the third year that Dr. Boddicker has been leaving his busy dermatology practice to fly his Cessna Citation more than two hours to Gary/Chicago International Airport.

    On the way, he often stops to fulfill his responsibilities as clinical professor in the college of medicine at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, his alma mater. That’s about one and a half hours from where he lives in western South Dakota. He has been on the faculty for more than 12 years.

    Giving back
    The 26-year dermatology veteran says he takes off from two to five days a month to “give back.”

    “I was very lucky in my training to have good mentors and people who took the time to help me acquire a large variety of medical and surgical skills. It’s great to have the opportunity to give that back … and interact with the next generation of people in the profession,” he says.

    A long-time friend and colleague, Warren W. Piette, M.D., chairman of dermatology at Stroger Hospital, talked with Dr. Boddicker about teaching in Chicago about five years ago. At that time, Dr. Boddicker was helping his son settle into college at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

    Accustomed to travel
    While most might have seen the distance as a knockout factor, Dr. Boddicker did not. The dermatologist is no stranger to volunteering outside Rapid City. In addition to teaching in Iowa, Dr. Boddicker had long been journeying to Peru and Guatemala to do medical relief work.

    “In the last five or six years, I’ve gone to establish a Mohs surgical program in Lima, Peru, because they don’t have a single Mohs surgeon (there),” he says. “We are in the final stages of getting that rolling at a university in Lima.”

    It also helps that he doesn’t seem to mind working just about all the time.

    In Rapid City, Dr. Boddicker starts each weekday in the clinic at about 5:30 a.m. and often stays until about 7 p.m. His days in the academic setting are often as long, while he sees patients, teaches residents and makes hospital rounds.

    Dr. Boddicker believes experienced dermatologists have a lot to offer residents, including an understanding of what it’s like to practice in the real world — outside the rigidity of an academic institution. The residents, in turn, offer Dr. Boddicker their points of view.

    It’s a win-win, the dermatologist says.

    Learning from diversity
    He also enjoys the diversity of patients — especially the extreme differences between patients in Rapid City and Chicago. The differences in the cultures, ethnicities and even the weather, he says, keep him sharp as a dermatologist.

    “In Chicago, you have people who have emigrated from the Middle East or India or Southeast Asia. Because of that, they bring infectious diseases and other things that are endemic to those areas, which we don’t see in Rapid City,” he says.

    Dr. Boddicker might see patients in Chicago with cutaneous tuberculosis, leprosy or some parasite process, whereas he is more likely to treat conditions common among Native Americans, such as polymorphic light eruption, in South Dakota.

    “You go to Cook County, where there is a large black population, and patients don’t have polymorphic light eruption; they have pseudofolliculitis and other diseases that are much more common in that ethnic population,” he says.

    Weather, too, is a factor in the conditions he sees.

    “During the summer, we get 30 percent or 40 percent humidity, so in South Dakota, we have people who have dry skin all year long,” he says. “The more humid weather in Illinois makes treating even something as simple as acne different than you would treat it in South Dakota.”

    Dr. Boddicker, who has a 10-minute commute (by car) to his practice in Rapid City, says he will continue his work at Stroger Hospital, even though his son, Daniel, graduated from Northwestern this year in June and plans to move away from Illinois.

    The dermatologist, who stays in a hotel each time he travels to Chicago, says the effort to help and teach is “good for the soul.”

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

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