The Good Doctors: Dr Cara McDonald
Dr Cara McDonald
Dermatologist, Complete Skin Specialists, Melbourne
“I really believe in RATIONALE because they believe in medical science combined with cosmetic formulations that my patients really enjoy using.” Here, Dr Cara McDonald reveals what inspires her work, her love for complex problem solving, and what sets RATIONALE apart.
What drew you to dermatology?
“At school, my passion was in the arts, especially painting, and I even considered this as a career. However, I also loved problem-solving, people and science, so I felt like medicine might be a good choice. I really had no idea where it would lead but the visual aspect of dermatology always appealed to me. I also found that dermatology allowed me to be practical and hands-on, creative and people-oriented, using all my strengths and keeping me interested. I love the variety and feel like I have come a full circle with the skin being my blank canvas!”
What inspires you in this industry?
“What inspires me most of all is the beauty of skin itself. I am constantly in awe of how this very thin layer covering our body has the strength to resist trauma and protect us, the elasticity to let us grow and move, and so many other important functions. The skin helps us communicate and conveys health, well-being and attraction. I’m inspired to help everyone find their best skin and enjoy educating colleagues and the community on how to achieve this.”
What’s been your most significant career highlight?
“I’m most proud of all the small steps I’ve taken and decisions I’ve made that have led me to this point in my career. I have a job I love and new opportunities that are constantly opening up. I have an amazing, supportive husband and three happy, healthy small children. Every day is a highlight for me and I’m proud of the work I’ve put in to get me to where I am today."
What do you love most about being a dermatologist?
“There are so many aspects I love about my job. I love helping people and particularly seeing the change in their confidence and self esteem that comes with improving their skin. I love the variety in dermatology; young and old, medical and surgical. We treat severe, debilitating skin diseases through to simple cosmetic complaints, yet in all cases we can make a difference. I love being hands on and procedural, and the complex problem solving. It’s never boring—there’s always something new to learn.”
What does confidence mean to you?
“To me, confidence is the ability to be yourself and feel a true sense of belonging. I think that true confidence comes once you learn self-compassion and realise that in most cases it doesn’t matter what other people think.”
Do you have a role model?
“As a junior doctor I was fortunate to meet my now business partner, dermatologist Dr Belinda Welsh. She has been a fantastic role model and mentor, and inspired me not only to pursue dermatology but to prioritise being a kind and empathetic doctor. After completing my specialist training, I was lucky to have her welcome me into her already-established practice and together we have grown the business.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt?
“I try to be open to all ideas and suggestions, and always operate on the assumption that I could be wrong! In most cases there are many different answers to any given problem and trying to see things from another perspective will help you be a better doctor, friend, mother and business person.”
And any words to live by?
“We live in a difficult world where competition and comparison are everywhere. Comparison is the enemy of happiness. Focus on your own goals and personal values, and be prepared to make some sacrifices in the short term to reach your longer term goals. As Winston Churchill said: ‘Things are not always right because they are hard, but if they are right one must not mind if they are also hard’.”
Interview by Hélène Pappas