WD Spotlight: Valerie Hanft, MD
Dr. Valerie Hanft was the third physician to join the Westlake Dermatology team back in 2005. She is a board certified dermatologist whose patients appreciate her warm smile and extensive medical expertise.
Why did you choose to get into dermatology?
My parents were both physicians so I have always had an interest in the field of medicine. I have to say my father [shown with Dr. Hanft in the photo above] was the single biggest influence in my career choice. He was an obstetrician–probably the furthest thing from dermatology, but seeing how fulfilling his work was for him had a powerful and lasting impact.
I first became interested in dermatology after my own hospitalization in college for a rash that the doctors initially thought was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but were ultimately unable to diagnose. It has only been in recent years that the illness has been fully described– a rare medication reaction called DRESS syndrome. It was after that experience that I became intrigued with the skin’s elaborate tendencies to manifest underlying issues inside the body. Given my fascination with visual puzzles, medical dermatology always held the most appeal. The fact that I get to interact with patients of all ages is just another perk of the specialty.
Where are you from and how did you settle in Austin?
Originally from New York City, I was raised in Miami then did college and medical school at Duke University (love Duke basketball– go Blue Devils!) and residency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After living in Colorado for a few years and realizing cold weather is not for me, I moved to Austin and joined Westlake Dermatology.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I enjoy staying active (mostly jogging and swimming) and exploring Austin’s food scene– it’s quite possible the “staying active” interest is constantly reinforced by the foodie one. Fortunately, Austin is a great city for both. My favorite place in Austin is Town Lake. Of course, Uchi and Uchiko might be close seconds.
What is something most people do not know about you?
I lived in Paris for a year between college and medical school. I used to travel frequently, but find myself to be more of a homebody lately. One day I will try to pick my French back up.
What do you like most about working at Westlake Dermatology?
I love being at Westlake Dermatology because of the people. I really enjoy working closely with my partners. It’s like the best aspects of residency where we get to exchange perspectives on challenging cases and constantly learn from each other. Furthermore, being in a large group allows me to practice the medical dermatology I enjoy most and pass on the cosmetic and surgical aspects to colleagues I trust. Frances and Sharese, my fabulous medical assistants, complete my team and make every day a pleasure. And let’s face it, working daily in our beautiful building never gets old.