Dr. Jennifer Lee of REN Dermatology has an impressive academic background and is also just the person you hope to be seated next to at a dinner party: she’s engaging, interesting and real. Nashville scored this amazing doctor in 2010 when she was recruited here, and we are thrilled to feature her as our FACE of Nashville today!
Tell us how you came to Nashville.
The long story is: When I was 19 years old, I went on my first medical missions project to the Dominican Republic, and there were three Vanderbilt pediatricians on that trip. That experience had a significant impact on my desire to become a doctor, and I dreamed about attending Vanderbilt Medical School and becoming a pediatrician. Although I ended up going to Harvard and ultimately pursued dermatology, I always had a special place in my heart for Vanderbilt. During medical school, I had the opportunity to go on a missions project to Peru with a large group of students and physicians from Vanderbilt and Nashville, including Dr. Morgan Wills, Dr. Jason Robbins, and many others. Fast forward to 2010, when an opportunity arose to join Vanderbilt Division of Dermatology — I thought it was serendipitous and couldn’t pass it up.
Is REN Dermatology your first time in private practice?
REN Dermatology is my first time in private practice, as well as my first solo venture, and I’m loving every minute! It’s been a challenging but very fun experience. I’ve really enjoyed being involved with every aspect of establishing and growing the practice, as well as getting to personalize it. The name REN is very meaningful to me as it pays honor to my mother’s family name.
How do you balance splitting your time between REN Dermatology and your position as clinical assistant professor for Vanderbilt’s medical school?
All of my clinical work is at REN Dermatology, where I see patients daily at our office in Franklin. As Clinical Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt, I participate in weekly Dermatology Grand rounds. I also lecture to residents and physicians in various specialties, including dermatology, internal medicine and allergy. Teaching is my favorite aspect of being part of the academic medical community, so I hope to continue balancing both.
After working in more northern climates before coming to Nashville, are there different skin issues that are more common here in the South?
In dermatology, we treat a wide variety of skin, hair and nail diseases, but I think skin conditions in Middle Tennessee are actually very similar to those I encountered in New England or the Midwest.
What are the top 3 things that women, in particular, can and should do to keep their skin healthy and “youthful.”
There are 3 simple things we all can do to maintain healthy and youthful skin: Wear sunscreen, eat and sleep well, and don’t smoke.
Would you share 2 recipes that our readers could make at home to apply to their skin for glowing results?
I like this simple scrub: Mix cold-pressed virgin coconut oil with a handful amount of the sugar or sea salt (whichever is your preference; I use sugar because it’s less coarse). Add a drop of essential oil (lemon, orange, peppermint, and lavender are all nice). Gently massage the mixture onto your face and wash with warm water.
Kara Ballard, our licensed medical aesthetician (LMA) here at REN Dermatology, recommends this avocado-based, at-home mask that helps eliminate dead skin cells and offers a more glowing complexion: Mash up one avocado and add a few drops of honey and several squeezes of a fresh lemon. Mix ingredients together and apply liberally to your face, rinsing with warm water after 5 minutes. This one is effective because avocados contain the good kind of fat, as well as more than 25 vital nutrients, including Vitamin A. You’ll instantly have softer and more hydrated skin!
Is there a quote or piece of advice that you have relied on that you can share with our readers today?
Proverbs 3:5, 6 has been meaningful to me since I was young: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” And my parents have always encouraged my brother and me to try our best in every endeavor without necessarily worrying about the outcome. My mom inspires me to dream big and my dad always keeps me grounded and relaxed.
How has Nashville changed in just 4 years you have been here?
Nashville has grown tremendously in the last several years, especially in the Gulch where I live. I’ve had a front row seat to a lot of the growth and I’m so impressed by the thriving music, food, and cultural scene in Nashville. It’s very exciting to be here right now.
Tell us about having a business in Franklin. Is the vibe different than Nashville?
Just like Nashville, Franklin is a very friendly town. We have enjoyed becoming a part of this community, and I am very grateful for the warm welcome from our medical colleagues, the business community and local residents.
Do you have any fears?
For the most part, I try to live without fear or regret. But one thing I do find myself worrying about is how I can help keep my parents as healthy as possible.
On a lighter side, is there any “must have” wardrobe piece you are looking to add to your closet this season?
I love white dresses for the spring/summer seasons, so I will be on the lookout for a great new piece for the warmer months. Let me know if you have any suggestions!
Can you name a favorite indulgence?
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and hikes at Percy Warner Park with my dog Poppy.
What books are currently found on your nightstand or e-reader?
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, Baden-Powell’s Beads: Book 2 by Dr. Paul Parsons, my colleague who’s an Orthopedic surgeon and novelist.
What was your last best meal in Nashville?
Is there any upcoming event you are especially looking forward to?
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding God, family and friends!)
Poppy (my adorable rescue puppy); sunscreen (I wear it every day, rain or shine); and hot green tea in my Starbucks travel mug. That mug has gone with me everywhere — including China, Patagonia, and all around the country in the last year!
Thanks Jennifer! Be sure to check out REN Dermatology’s Open House this Thursday, April 17 from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s a chance to check out their new office space, meet the staff, and learn about all their medical and cosmetic offerings.
Also, special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s beautiful photos! ashleyhylbert.com