Shooting for the Stars

How an astronaut, a legendary comedian, a hometown doctor and a cardiologist father helped guide H.L. Greenberg, MD, to a career in dermatology.
Shooting for the Stars

As a child, H.L. Greenberg, MD, lived next door to Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, the eighth man to walk on the moon. His Colorado Springs, Colorado, neighbor motivated him to do something great with his life. “I always thought that if he could walk on the moon, I could do anything,” says Dr. Greenberg.

As the owner and founder of Las Vegas Dermatology in Las Vegas, Dr. Greenberg practices general and cosmetic dermatology, serving a patient base that includes some of Las Vegas’ biggest names. But the journey to private practice success was not paved with gold.

The Road to Dermatology

The son of a respected cardiologist, Dr. Greenberg always looked up to his father. “When I was in the seventh grade, my science class went to a cardiac cath lab and watched him perform an angioplasty on a patient. Afterwards, the patient turned to my father and, in front of all my little friends, said, ‘Thank you doctor for saving my life,’” he remembers. “I was in awe and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to save lives.”

After graduating with distinction from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Dr. Greenberg headed to medical school at Wayne State University in Detroit, not entirely certain what sort of doctor he would be.

“I went to medical school wanting to save lives, and I spent two weeks doing cardiology with my dad in my senior year,” says Dr. Greenberg. “My mom said I should try something different so I did another rotation with my hometown dermatologist—Dr. Nate Trookman—and I was hooked. I just fell in love with dermatology. I couldn’t believe you could do this many things in a specialty.”

Dr. Greenberg completed an internal medicine residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., then began his formal dermatology training as a cutaneous oncology fellow and first-year dermatology resident at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He continued his residency at Scott & White of the Texas A&M University Health System, where he took on the role of chief dermatology resident and gained specialized experience in Mohs micrographic surgery.

Viva Las Vegas

Though he lived in several regions as he completed his education, Dr. Greenberg always knew he wanted to wind up in Sin City. “We took a family trip here when I was 12 and went to Caesars Palace, where I met comedian Rodney Dangerfield, so I always felt like it was an exciting town,” says Dr. Greenberg. “I wanted to meet famous people, I wanted to eat at great restaurants and I wanted to see fantastic shows. A lot of famous people come to town, the restaurants are great and it’s easy to travel elsewhere. It’s a great home.”

He was recruited by the largest dermatology practice in the city and worked with them for a year. “But the whole time I knew what I really wanted to do was start my own practice here,” says Dr. Greenberg.

His first step in achieving that goal was a meeting with Keith Borglum, a medical management practice consultant out of Santa Clara, California, who taught him the basics of launching a successful medical practice.

Feeling he was ready to step out on his own, he left his position, took a part-time job at the VA Hospital, and forged ahead with fulfilling his dream. He rented a small space in Las Vegas and admits he nearly went bankrupt in those first few months.

Photo courtesy of Jim K. Decker.