Dr. Chynna Steele is a nationally renowned board certified dermatologist and doctor to the stars and alumna of Harvard University (undergraduate), the University of Chicago (medical school) and Washington University (dermatology). At her thriving practice, Steele Dermatology in Alpharetta, Georgia, she specializes in skin conditions, skin cancer, and cutting-edge cosmetic procedures to enhance the skin, body and hair. Not only is this member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. a successful doctor, but she is a blogger too, sharing a more in-depth look into her personal life on her website, prudentlypretty.com
Read on as Dr. Steele discusses her vocation.
How did you decide to become a dermatologist? What path did you take?
I was in my third year of medical school when we had a “derm day” where lots of derm patients filled a clinic and explained to us what they had and what treatments they got. Derm clicked for me! In medicine, it’s all about finding that field that clicks for you, that really gets you excited. Derm did. I liked being able to help people with the conditions that were visible and palpable to them. I found it to be very gratifying.
What inspired you to become a dermatologist?
Really, it was just that day where it all started. After that, I elected to spend more time in the field to really see what it was about. Patients see and feel their dermatologic conditions, so I felt like they could really relate to their conditions and I got great gratification from treating what the had. They could easily see and feel when things were getting better. We could see it together.
What is it like being a Black female doctor in a field of dominated by White men? What have been some positive and negative experiences?
At times it was intimidating, especially in medical school. I found that some of my counterparts were much cockier and arrogant in school, but often I had much higher grades and scores. I just played my game. I knew that I was really smart and of what I was capable, so I just did what I needed to do and ignored the rest.
How do you approach business challenges?
I didn’t have a formal business education, so everything I learn is from others and “on-the-job” if you will. I didn’t go out on my own initially, I worked for other people and I learned a lot watching my former employers and asking questions of them. It made me more confident to go on my own. Also, going out on my own, I didn’t stress over money. I took out the loans that I needed to, had a certain of money in the bank to support myself while the business grew and just decided to work as hard as I could to provide the best product — dermatologic care — and to allow things to grow from there. That’s worked well. I make adjustments along the way and continue to learn from colleagues, mentors and consultants.
What separates you from other doctors in your field?
A lot of me, of my personality, goes into my care. I hug a lot of my patients, just because I’ve come to know them so well that a handshake seems too impersonal. I laugh and joke with my patients, I’m honest with them, and I treat them and speak to them the way I would want to be. I only recommend things to my patients that I would do or do for myself. I relate to them.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I am always talking to colleagues about the things that they are doing, going to conferences, and reading journals. It’s a constant process. It’s exciting. There are lots of new things in the derm world.
To what do you attribute your success?
Again, I think a lot of it is my personality and putting myself into what I do. I’m honest and candid with patients and try to relate to them. I remember Oprah saying at one point that was what made her successful. I’m a big Oprah fan and thinking of her, I thought that to be really true when I thought of the way she hosted her show.
What are the two key factors of business success?
Not being afraid to make mistakes.
Asking for help, but going with your gut in the end.
What is one of your biggest goals?
I’d like to add another office location at some point.
Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
I love Cheryl Burgess who is a dermatologist in D.C. I had the chance to shadow her when I was a resident. Besides providing great care and relating to her patients, she’s a great business woman and awesome role model/mentor.
As I mentioned earlier, I love Oprah’s approach to her relationship with her viewers (when she has a show) and her business acumen.
What is your daily skin care routine?
I use a different cleanser for my skin depending on the climate, but always for acne prone skin. I use a serum with antioxidants and growth factors in the morning and evening followed by sunscreen in the morning and moisturizer at night. I keep it simple.
What are the hottest and healthiest trends in skin care?
There are some really great peels, and procedures, like new lasers and micro needling that are great for skin texture. I try to avoid “trendy” things in products. Things like BB and CC creams, which aren’t necessarily revolutionary products, but often involve great marketing.
How do you set goals?
I think about the things I want to achieve and make a new list of goals every now and then. I don’t wait until a new year. I do it when it hits me. Sometimes it’s because of something that I’ve read or something that I’m noticing with patients or in the office, something new that I want to provide patients, etc.
What are some quotes you live by?
“Treat others as you would want to be treated.” –the Golden Rule
“Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself.”