Dr. Andrea Hernandez-Bures was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico. She went to the University of Puerto Rico for her undergraduate studies and later went to Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine for her veterinary degree. Following graduation, Dr. Hernandez-Bures completed a small animal medicine and surgery rotating internship in southwest Florida and then worked in general practice for a year as a part-time associate veterinarian while doing research with the dermatology service at the University of Florida. She completed a specialty internship in dermatology at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and later moved to California to complete an American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD) residency at Animal Dermatology Clinic in Tustin. In her spare time, Dr. Hernandez-Bures enjoys posting funny/educational videos on social media related to veterinary dermatology. She also works with a non-profit organization, Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, on her home island to help provide free and low-cost spay/neuter clinics to communities in need. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family which includes her husband, their dog, Vita, and their one-eyed cat Lupe.
Q: Why did you decide to go to vet school? How did you choose to go into veterinary dermatology medicine?
A: From a very young age, my love for animals and medicine sparked because of my grandmother. Back home in Puerto Rico, she rescued stray dogs—particularly those with skin issues—and would bathe them with lime sulfur to help their skin. Then as an undergraduate college student, I began to volunteer at a local vet clinic and fell even more in love with the profession and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. As for veterinary dermatology, it wasn’t until my clinical year of veterinary school when I decided to continue with my specialty training. The dermatology clinician at my vet school, Dr. Hubbard, made me fall in love with the specialty!
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: It would probably be managing cases where finances are a concern. Most skin conditions are chronic which require lifelong medications, blood work monitoring, etc., and finances can easily build up over time, making it hard for pet owners to afford most treatments. In these cases, it is important to communicate the treatment options with the client and try to formulate different approaches to see what will work best for both the pet and its owners. However, this is easier said than done. Luckily, nowadays, pet insurance is becoming even more popular and accessible to clients. I always advocate for pet insurance as soon as clients get a new pet.
Q: What are the most common dermatology conditions you treat in pets in California?
A: By far, atopic dermatitis and flea allergy dermatitis are the most common diseases we manage at our clinic; however, this is a common disease throughout the nation. I would say that skin diseases related to solar damage are fairly common here in Southern California given that it is such a sunny area. We often see cases of solar dermatosis, certain skin cancers, and some autoimmune diseases that can be exacerbated by UV ray exposure (like discoid lupus erythematosus).
Q: What motivates you to create your Instagram page and amazing TikTok videos? How do you plan to continue educating the Vetstagram community about dermatology?
A: One of my passions is education, whether it’s client education or exposing more colleagues to veterinary dermatology. Skin and ear diseases are one of the most common presenting complaints in veterinary practices and dermatology specialists are limited throughout the nation. Thankfully, social media is a very accessible tool for everyone and posting educational content is a great way to spread knowledge. Whether it’s through funny TikTok videos or informative pictures of skin lesions, the options are endless. Another big factor that motivated me to create content was the fact that there are no veterinary dermatology specialists in Puerto Rico and, like everywhere else, skin and ear diseases are very common. For that reason, I create content in Spanish and English to provide the same educational content for both audiences. For now, my plan is to continue sharing educational content in Spanish and English, specifically content that is geared towards pet owners and veterinarians/veterinary students. This may change and evolve once I become a specialist and finish my residency.
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