Earlier this year, Sarah Schram, MD went on a spectacular adventure, traveling to KwaZulu-Natal, known amongst discerning travelers as the “must-see, must-do” destination in South Africa. She spent five wondrous days there – and not in the way you would expect. She was not a tourist in search of its pulsating energy and exotic wildlife. Instead, she showed up in scrubs as a teacher. In the unique splendor and natural beauty of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr. Schram lent her surgical skills to the University of Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. The University has a proud and opulent heritage of academic excellence.
The Medical School is dedicated to producing highly qualified and experienced medical practitioners devoted to improving the quality of life of South Africans. This is a program that has a very strong medical dermatology program but has not had surgery in the past. Historically, most everything is sent to plastic surgery, often creating extremely long waits and preventing treatment for patients in need. Dr. Schram instructed both their resident physicians and attending physicians in cutaneous surgery skills, including cancer excisions, suturing, benign lesion destruction and post-op wound care. Dr. Schram and a number of program physicians treated a variety of conditions including skin cancers, neurofibromas, keloid scars, dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPNs), and cysts for underprivileged patients.
Patients came from far and wide across the country, some even traveling for eight hours by bus for an opportunity to be seen and treated. Dr. Schram felt compelled to provide teaching and mentorship to a new group of up and coming doctors. “I was motivated to do this as I have been very fortunate in my career to have great teaching and mentorship. I wanted to be able to provide this to a new group of doctors.” In teaching them, she was also rewarded with some new medical dermatology peals as well. Traveling to South Africa didn’t go without some out-of-this-world sightings either. Outside of clinic, Dr. Schram took in some breathtaking views and met some new friends along the way.