Thank you to the ASLMS for the opportunity of a lifetime and unforgettable preceptorship with Dr. Tina Alster. Prior to this preceptorship, I felt truly overwhelmed and intimidated by the complexity of laser devices. How would I know which (of the hundreds of) laser devices would be optimal for my patient? How would I know which (of the myriad of) settings would be safe, but efficacious, for my patient? Dr. Alster effortlessly broke down these convoluted concepts into bite-sized, straightforward bits of knowledge for me to more easily digest. She shared with me her most commonly employed laser “recipes," not only a term she used to describe her favorite laser settings, but also one that somehow made the topic less daunting for me.
During my week, I was fortunate enough to see some of Dr. Alster’s more complicated patients with conditions ranging from extensive and disfiguring facial vascular malformations to severe hypertrophic scarring secondary to ablative laser therapy performed elsewhere. Many were overcome with emotion at their visits, detailing the incredible improvements experienced under Dr. Alster’s care after failing years of treatment on the outside. I was moved and inspired by Dr. Alster’s ability to meaningfully transform so many lives with her expertise, passion, and empathetic nature.
Dr. Alster is incomparable as a mentor, not only for her laser expertise and knowledge, but also for her mentorship style. From the second we stepped into her office to the moment we left at the end of the day, there was not a lost teaching opportunity. Dr. Alster continuously imparted tips and pearls to us throughout each patient interaction, as well as between cases. She frequently tested our retention of the information to reinforce critical concepts. My pocket notebook was full of fundamental practical pearls after just one week! Moreover, Dr. Alster’s effervescence and enthusiasm for her work were contagious; her energy made learning such a treat.
What struck me most during my ASLMS preceptorship, however, was Dr. Alster’s sincere kindness and compassion – not only for her patients, but also for her mentees. As a world expert in laser devices and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Alster could not have been a more humble, down-to-earth person. She made each and every one of her mentees feel like he/she was the only one in the room. She was genuinely interested in us, even on a personal level - inquiring about our extracurricular plans in the city and offering recommendations.
I am incredibly grateful to both Dr. Alster and the ASLMS for this unbelievable opportunity. Dr. Alster’s own passion for laser technology undoubtedly stimulated my own interest in lasers, and I hope to be half the ASLMS mentor to future trainees as Dr. Alster was to me.