Spotlight Interview: featuring Victoria Lazareth MA, MSN, NP-C, DCNP

Victoria Lazareth MA, MSN, NP-C, DCNP, is a Board Certified Dermatology Nurse Practitioner and co-founder of the Society of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners. She serves on the Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Certification Board, as Affiliate Professor of Dermatology for Simmons University Boston, and as  faculty for the Center for Advanced Practice Dermatology, MauiDerm NP/PA, and other professional conferences. She is a contributing author to the text Dermatology for Advanced Practice Clinicians: Essential Knowledge and Skills, a content reviewer for the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association, and has contributed several peer-reviewed articles to the dermatology literature. Victoria provides general dermatology care and sub-specializes in cutaneous oncology, transplant dermatology, and dermatologic surgery. 

Tell us a little bit about your background.

 Victoria: After practicing for many years as a pediatric and adult intensive care nurse in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, I obtained a master’s degree in Management and Human Resource Development from Webster University. I was able to apply this knowledge as a Clinical Trial Coordinator for Bayer Pharmaceuticals Europe and subsequently as a Resource Administrator for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kigali Rwanda. Upon returning to the United States after 15 years abroad in Europe and Africa, I found myself disconnected from the American medical system. In order to re-acclimate myself, I returned to post-graduate work and obtained my master’s degree in Nursing from Simmons University Boston. 

It was during my clinical rotations at Simmons that I developed my interest in dermatology. After several years in internal medicine getting established in the nurse practitioner (NP) role, I was hired as the first Advanced Practice Provider for the University of Massachusetts Dermatology division. As a result, I was encouraged to follow the three-year dermatology residency program along with the medical residents, and I received my training directly from the UMass faculty. 

I worked in multiple general dermatology and dermatologic surgical clinics with a primary focus on skin cancer screening, diagnosis, and management. I was the first assist in Mohs surgery and learned surgical principles, skills, and advanced closure techniques from the surgeons. I also assisted the laser clinic and the New England Epidermolysis Bullosa Clinic, and created the transplant clinic together with one of our fellows. I came to appreciate that while dermatology presents a significant professional challenge to master, it also provides a great deal of satisfaction in the diagnosis and management or cure of the myriad of dermatologic diseases and conditions with which patients present.

After 10 years in academic practice, I began working in private practice, and have been doing so for the past 8 years. Additionally, I have become increasingly involved in a variety of professional activities, including Associate Professor and Clinical Preceptor for the UMass and Simmons University graduate schools of nursing; lecturer for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the Dermatology Nurses Association (DNA), and the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education (NPACE) conferences; advisory board and faculty member for the MauiDerm NP+PA conference; faculty member for the Center for Advanced Practice Dermatology; board member for the Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Certification Board; contributing author to the Dermatology for Advanced Practice Clinicians text book; content editor for the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses Association (JDNA); and, most recently, editorial advisory board member and guest editor for NP+PA Perspectives in Dermatology, an ongoing supplement series, to Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (JCAD).

Sounds like you have had a very active career, not only in your personal commitment to education and expanding your clinical knowledge and expertise, but also in giving dermatology NPs a unified voice among the other groups of dermatology clinicians. One such means is the Society of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners (SDNP), an organization that you co-founded. Tell us more about the SDNP.

Victoria: The SDNP is the first dermatology NP organization that was developed for dermatology NPs, by dermatology NPs. All of us have longed for a professional organization that can meet our professional needs in a manner similar to that of the Society for Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The SDNP was created to do just that. We recognize the importance and value of our colleagues and partners: dermatology nurses, PAs, physicians, and our primary care colleagues, all of whom have organizations to meet their professional needs: the DNA, SDPA, AAD, and NADNP respectively. The SDNP was created to meet the specific educational and professional needs of the dermatology NP. 

What are the society’s mission and vision?

Victoria: The SDNP’s mission is to promote excellence in advanced practice dermatology nursing. Our vision is to promote the highest quality of care in advanced practice dermatology through education, specialty certification, evidence-based clinical practice, and inter-professional research.

What does the society value most?

Victoria: The SDNP values the following:

  • Providing high-quality services to all of our members, regardless of age, race, color, religion, national origin, gender orientation, mental abilities, or ability to pay for services
  • Maintaining honest, transparent, accountable, and responsive interactions with stakeholders
  • Promoting the highest standards of excellence in dermatology NP practice
  • Promoting professional collaboration with all dermatology providers, including academic and healthcare institutions.

What makes the SDNP unique compared to other dermatology nursing organizations? 

Victoria: We founded the society to specifically meet the needs of dermatology NPs. Other organizations have various other member needs, including that of medical assistants, nurses, office staff, physician assistants, physicians, and primary care NPs. By focusing on dermatology NPs, we are better able to address our specific educational and professional needs.

What are some of the things that the SDNP will be able to provide  dermatology NPs? 

Victoria: The SDNP offers dermatology NP leaders that will represent dermatology NP practice at professional venues, such as the AAD, SDPA, AANP, DNA, that influence and impact dermatology NP practice. The society will also provide the following: 

  1. Access to essential practice guidelines and articles of importance 
  2. Rapid responses to challenges regarding dermatology NP practice 
  3. Webinars providing evidence-based, up-to-date practice updates 
  4. Symposia providing continuing medical education (CME) credits and networking opportunities
  5. A “home” for dermatology NPs where they can reach out to their colleagues to seek advice and bring forth practice issues 
  6. Dermatology NP content experts on numerous topics, including contract negotiating, coding, setting up practice agreements and independent practices, research and leadership opportunities
  7. Provide volunteer opportunities for dermatology NPs to develop and enhance their professional practice, including serving in positions within the organization, developing speaking and authorship skills, and interfacing with industry and professional partners.

Who can become a member of the SDNP?

Victoria: The SDNP offers the following membership opportunities:

  • Active Member ($135)—A member with a strong emphasis in dermatology but not certified 
  • Fellow Active Member ($135)—A member who is a Dermatology Certified (DC) NP and practices full or part time
  • Student Member ($100)—Member that is in school working toward a DCNP degree
  • Introductory Corporate Member ($500)—Individual member of a company that is in the dermatology industry or is a supporter of dermatology industry.

Will the SDNP have their own meeting? 

Victoria: Yes. The inaugural virtual SDNP Symposium was held on September 20, 2020, and it was extremely successful. We offer monthly webinars and will continue to develop and offer additional educational and networking opportunities to address the needs and interests of dermatology NPs.

Who governs the SDNP? 

Victoria: There are three officers of the organization and a board of directors that govern the SDNP and chair several standing committees. The future board of directors will be determined by annual elections by the membership.

How can our readers get involved? 

Victoria: There are numerous volunteer opportunities open to anyone who wishes to become involved in the organization or influence the focus and priorities of the SDNP