Congratulations, it is an Honor to Feature
Denise Brooks, PA-C
Dermatology Center of Williamsburg
Denise Brooks is a detective, a provider with a passion for spotting the tiniest clinical clues left by skin cancers that could turn deadly.
During her 14 years as a Board certified Dermatology Physician Assistant, Brooks has brought her comforting yet persistent personality to patients who may never have recognized or glimpsed symptoms of trouble without her trained eye.
“It might simply be a flat, pink spot, or a simple mole that stands out,” Brooks says. “If we can diagnose and treat it early, we can often cure people. It’s such a visual field in terms of detecting illnesses. We’re like Sherlock Holmes – just as curious and determined.”
Brooks, who decided to go into medicine after her father died of ALS when she was age 9, specializes in Medical Dermatology, particularly skin cancer screenings. She also treats other common dermatologic issues such as acne, warts, rashes and unwanted benign lesions.
During her careful full-body skin exams, Brooks aims to catch lesions in hard-to-see areas such as the scalp or the back of a leg, arm or ear. She notes that head and neck malignancies are particularly dangerous because they tend to metastasize more rapidly.
For suspected melanoma, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, Brooks performs punch biopsies to limit scarring. She also removes dysplastic nevi, abnormal moles thought to have some higher risk for developing into melanoma, with punch excisions.
Patient education is another major focus, including discussing signs of cancer and the importance of sunscreen and monthly skin self-exams. People with many moles, for instance, might take regular photographs to track any changes in color, size or shape. New spots that don’t disappear after two to four weeks also warrant a check.
“With basal and squamous cell cases, I so often hear, ‘I’ve got this bug bite that won’t go away,’” Brooks notes. “Well, there’s a good chance it’s not a bug bite.”
She adds that patients with a family history of skin cancer or a previous diagnosis of any type of cancer are at higher risk and likely need at least two exams a year. She and her practice physician, Donna Corvette, MD, frequently partner with local oncologists and Mohs surgeons on cases.
To help set her patients at ease, Brooks injects doses of her contagious laugh and calming presence into each appointment. “I examine people who are undressed, so, of course, they feel vulnerable and scared, especially if a needle is involved,” she notes. “I try to be reassuring, explain everything I’m doing and do a lot of listening.”
A Chesapeake native, Brooks was the type of child who read medical encyclopedias for fun. Her father’s devastating illness inspired her to want to learn as much as possible about the human body and help other people.
After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University magna cum laude with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Studies, Brooks worked in hospital laboratories for six years. Her fascination with cells and pathology later proved to be a perfect fit for dermatology.
In 2009, Brooks earned a Master’s of Physician Assistant from Eastern Virginia Medical School. She worked with dermatologist Ronald Buckley, DO, with Bayview Physicians Group for six years before joining the Dermatology Center of Williamsburg in 2014.
Committed to continuing education, Brooks stays active in multiple local and national medical societies and enjoys attending biannual Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants conferences.
Brooks also likes caring for patients in her community of Williamsburg, where she lives in a multi-generational household with her husband, an outdoorsy 7-year-old son and her 86-year-old mother.
“It’s so rewarding to build deeper connections with my patients over time and work to keep them healthy,” she says. “I truly love what I do.”
We are grateful for local Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants who serve our healthcare community!
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