There is a Latin saying, “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam” (“I shall either find a way or make one”) that could serve as Jeanine Downie, MD’s career slogan.
A New Jersey Top Doc for 17 consecutive years, lecturer, author, founder of Image Dermatology and self-professed “complete and utter control freak,” Dr. Downie gained public notoriety through TV appearances on programs including “The View” and “The Today Show” and is well known in the field of cosmetic dermatology with more than 80 published papers and a speaking career that has taken her around the globe.
“I wanted to do clinical trials in my practice because I could enroll my own subjects, and I wanted to be part of the conversation of why there were not enough African-Americans nor Latino Americans involved in clinical trials,” she says. “This was in the early 2000s, and it was a thing to not include skin of color in clinical trials. I wanted to be part of the change rather than just sit there and say, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’”
Her inspiration to become a physician came from family. Her mother is a pediatrician, who at 87 years old still practices part time, and her grandfather, who grew up in Guyana, was a dentist in Harlem. “When I was 4 years old, my grandfather told me that I was good in science, and I was going to become a doctor,” she recalls. “Of course, at 4 years old you don’t take science classes, but I worshipped my grandfather and believed everything he said. So, when I went to school, I would tell all my teachers that I was really good at science, and that was the beginning.” Becoming a Boss
Dr. Downie received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University, where she joined the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate, which is part of the school’s student government. “Most of the people who did TCU wanted to go to law school. I knew I wanted to go to medical school, but I also wanted to be a boss. I wanted to be in charge,” she says.
Today, she is the boss and founder of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. The practice is in a Victorian House. “We have a sign in our parking lot that says, ‘Your face is your most important accessory as you carry it with you everyday,’” says Dr. Downie. “That is what I tell my patients: Forget about your purse, forget about your shoes, your face is your most important accessory. It is about your economic viability, because no one wants to look like the old person at the job. It's also a romantic liability. What you look like to yourself and how you feel about yourself is what allows you to put your best foot forward.”
Inga Hansen is the managing editor of MedEsthetics.