Cosmetic Dermatologist, Tucson AZ
As a native Hawaiian, Dr. Tina Pai pursued her dream of having a private practice in Honolulu for 3 years before her husband’s own medical training took the couple to Tucson. As 1 of 3 dermatologists at Skin Spectrum, Dr. Pai calls it “the best job I could ask for.”
Patients and their families have been coming to see Dr. Pai at the Tucson dermatology clinic for more than 15 years.
“I feel honored and humbled that my patients trust me with their health, their appearance, and their personal health information. I work very hard to deserve that trust.”
A Conversation With Dr. Pai
Dr. Pai traveled across the Pacific Ocean to get her college education and complete her advanced medical training. She graduated summa cum laude from Whittier College in California with a degree in chemistry, then earned her medical degree from the renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She did an internal medicine internship at the Mayo Medical Center before completing a 3-year dermatology residency at the University Hospitals of Cleveland in Ohio. Here, Dr. Pai looks back at her experiences and what led her to Skin Spectrum.
Q. You are a native of Hawaii and returned there after more than 10 years of education and advanced training on the mainland. Was that always your plan?
A. Yes, I was born and raised in Honolulu and my family is there. It was my goal to return there to practice dermatology. I did that, opening a practice in a women’s and children’s hospital only a block from where I attended high school. I greatly enjoyed the experience, but my husband’s work brought us to Tucson, which we now have called home for 15 years.
Q. Did you always want to be a doctor?
A. Biology fascinated me for as long as I can remember, but as a child I loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. I thought my patients would be dogs and cats! I’m glad I went the people medicine route instead, because I enjoy talking to my patients.
Q. What led you into dermatology?
A. I didn’t plan to be a dermatologist when I started medical school. But when I took dermatology as an elective, I loved it immediately. Working with patients of all ages, from babies to seniors, is unique to dermatology and something I thoroughly enjoy. The specialty also encompasses both medical and surgical treatments, so I can see exactly what is bothering my patients on their skin.
Q. Did you have a role model or someone who greatly influenced your career?
A. I’ve had the privilege of learning from some of the world’s best doctors in dermatology. Those who I admired most and have tried to emulate are the physicians who remained modest and open-minded despite their impressive accomplishments. I continue to aspire to those virtues. The best advice I heard in medical school was to ask myself, “What would I do if this patient were my mother or father or my sister?” That helps you make the best decision.
Q. What led you to take a position at Skin Spectrum?
A. My husband came to Tucson to do his medical specialty training (in oculoplastic and cosmetic surgery). I followed him and by serendipity I landed at Skin Spectrum, which has turned out to be the best job I could ask for!
Q. What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a dermatologist?
A. It sounds very cliché, but there’s truly nothing better than the feeling I get when I have helped someone to feel good about the way they look and to feel more confident about themselves. It’s the best part of my job. I also value the relationships that I have with my patients. There are patients who I treated as teenagers who are now all grown up and who bring their own families to see me.
Q. What keeps you busy when you’re not at the clinic?
A. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking and spending time with my husband and my very energetic 8-year-old son.