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David J. Goldberg, MD, JD: Medicine, Law and Business Success

By: Abby Penning
Posted: November 2, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of
David J. Goldberg, MD, JD

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The combination of dermatology and surgery was a perfect fit for Goldberg. “I already knew I loved surgery, but I quickly realized I loved the physics of lasers, and I enjoyed interacting with patients. Communication is definitely one of the major components of a successful practice of medicine, especially in cosmetic work, so this all sort of naturally evolved into the work I’ve been doing now for more than 25 years,” he explains.

Making a name

Starting his cosmetic dermatology practice in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1985, Goldberg found himself immersed in a field that was rapidly gaining popularity. Through the years, in addition to running his own practice, he began training other medical professionals in cosmetic surgery and the use of lasers, as well as getting involved in academic work, eventually being named a clinical professor of dermatology and director of laser research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, a clinical professor of dermatology and chief of dermatologic surgery at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School in Newark, and chief of dermatology at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack.

He also got involved in conducting studies and testing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for everything from facial fillers to cosmeceuticals. He continued his work with skin laser treatments, as well as offering dermatologic procedures for everything from scar renewal to cosmetic surgery, including laser resurfacing, skin rejuvenation, facial fillers and neurotoxins, and hair removal procedures, which has led to the expansion of his practice, as well as the creation of relationships, working and otherwise, with a variety of colleagues.

In addition, Goldberg went back to school to pursue an additional love that medicine had edged out for a time—law. “In college, I enjoyed both biology and political science. Most people would choose either medicine or law. I wanted to do both,” Goldberg explains. “Because I wanted to be a doctor since childhood, it was inevitable that medical school started first.” However, in 1992, while still maintaining his flourishing medical practice, he enrolled at Fordham University’s law school. “I did all my course work and graduated in 1996. Then when I sat to take the dreaded New York bar exam, I asked myself, ‘What did I do all this for? I love the practice of medicine.’ ”

After passing both the New York and New Jersey bar exams, Goldberg didn’t want to have worked for his law degree only to not use it. “During the next couple of weeks I pondered the issue and found myself thinking about what I love about both medicine and the law,” he recalls. “Being a doer, I put together a law school course curriculum, and with that in hand, I went to the dean’s office and told him, ‘I know I just graduated, but I’ve put together this program and I’d like you to take a look at it and make me a law professor this fall’—and it worked. I’ve been teaching a course in health care law at Fordham University School of Law ever since.” In addition to teaching, Goldberg also combines his legal and medical knowledge to write a legal column for Dermatology Times, saying, “I’m living my passion by being able to combine these two professions.”

Continued growth