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Faculty Focus: Nkanyezi N. Ferguson, MD, FAAD

Date: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Nkanyezi Ferguson portrait

What is your hometown? 

I was born in Orange, California, but moved to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, when I was one year old and lived there until I completed high school.

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

Growing up in a resource poor country I witnessed the enormous health disparities and knew I wanted to contribute to medicine in order to make a difference and relieve suffering. A personal experience watching my grandmother die without access to care, set the stepping stones for my path to medicine with the conviction that patients deserve to live and die with dignity. I believe that quality health care should be available to everyone irrespective of an individual’s resources or ability to pay. 

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

I completed my dermatology residency and Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Oncology fellowship at the University of Iowa and stayed on to join the faculty in 2015.

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

Throughout my training at the University of Iowa I was impressed by the institution’s dedication to providing high quality health care. The vision to make a difference in the quality of life and health for generations in Iowa and around the world really resonates with me. Most importantly, I found a home within the dermatology department where I am allowed to follow my passion and carve out my dream career. I have been lucky to find incredible mentors and role models all at one place. 

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I feel very fortunate to have had numerous mentors and teachers throughout my journey. My greatest mentor, Dr. Ellis Ingram, taught me to not only seek mentorship in many but to be a mentor to many as well.  He believed in humility and being impeccable with one’s words. He reinforced a foundation of service and excellence and reminded me to do everything with kindness and empathy.  

What is the biggest change you’ve experienced in your field since you were a student?

The biggest change in the practice of medicine since I was a student is the modernization and technologic advances available to physicians. This accessibility allows us to access an immense amount of information that is available at our fingertips within seconds. However, with this has come many competing administrative and regulatory burdens that relentlessly try to come in-between the physician-patient relationship.  

What one piece of advice would you give to today’s students?

Don’t lose sight of the big picture and always put your patients first. Also remember to seek mentorship from many individuals and be a mentor to many in return.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University?

I have worked to try to increase diversity within medicine and the field of dermatology on the local level through mentorship, lectures, and pipeline programming and nationally through organizational diversity task force committees and diversity mentorship programs. I am passionate about serving my community and believe strongly in volunteerism both locally through involvement in the free medical clinic, skin cancer screenings, and Big Brothers Big Sisters and internationally through direct health care delivery and teledermatology. 

What are some of your outside interests?

I enjoy discovering the world (again) through my two young children, listening to my husband play jazz, and experiencing new cultures through travel. 

Learn more about Nkanyezi N. Ferguson, MD, FAAD.