Working as a dermatology physician assistant, Erin Jensen clarifies that she’s not typically saving anyone’s life — but that doesn’t mean that she’s not changing them. And in case she needs proof, or a reminder, she’s got a photo of one of her patients on her desk.
“My patient’s mom brought me in a picture of him at prom,” Erin explains. “He was sixteen and so awkward, it’s such a hard age, and we’d treated him for severe acne. But in the picture he’s smiling, he’s got clear skin. His mom said, ‘I want you to have this, because this smile is because of you.’ Just being able to have that picture, to have his mom thank me in that way and see how you can make an impact on someone’s life — it just means so much to me.”
But it’s not all smiles at the dermatology office. Erin also has to deal with sights and smells that aren’t for the faint of heart — including one cyst that almost made one of her nurses faint. “A patient came in with a big cyst at the top of his butt crack. He was flying to Chicago the next day and couldn’t sit on the plane for four hours with it, so we had to drain it. After we were done, my nurse stepped out and asked, ‘Did you almost pass out from that? ‘Cause I almost did, and I was across the room.’”
That’s not all. There’s also a condition known as delusions of parasitosis that Erin sees all too often. “People have this condition where they think their skin is infested with bugs, and they come in with this ziplock bag that they always say is full of bugs. They’re never full of bugs, by the way, but you have to take the time to go through their ‘baggy of bugs’ to examine it and gain the patient’s trust anyway.”
That most awkward part of her practice? Have to explain to male patients — and occasionally their wives and girlfriends — that men don’t actually get skin tags on their penises, and if they think they have one, it’s probably a genital wart. Yikes.
Luckily, Erin lives in a post-gross reality, and it takes more than a little — or a lot of — pus to ruin her day. “At work, everyone says, ‘How do you do this, I’m so sorry you have to do this,’ and I’m like, ‘This is what I do! I live for this stuff! I love it!’”
Erin does what she loves and feels good doing it — that’s why she thinks FIGS are such a good fit. “FIGS has reinvented the wheel. Medicine has been around for how long? Scrubs really were invented just so you wouldn’t get blood or guts on your clothes, but FIGS has a whole different way of thinking about it. We can feel professional, polished and comfortable in our work wear and know that the company stands for something good. We should be really thankful that FIGS is out there helping not only in the United States, but worldwide.”
“There’s a place for everyone,” Erin says — and it’s clear she’s found hers.