I'm a guy who loves to do lots of different things. I'm not just a doctor!
I'm an Irish International Age Group Triathlete with 3 European Podium finishes. I play lead guitar in Classic Rock Tribute band 'Raised on Rock'. I love to learn new things and always have 2-3 books on the go and online courses to complete.
I'm a proud husband, and father of 4 (growing up fast) children.
It wasn't always like that...Here's my journey to developing a specialist interest in dermatology:
Medical Background before Dermatology
I graduated from Queens University Belfast (QUB) in 1999 and following a year in Belfast City & Downe Hospitals I worked a year in A&E in Queensland Australia. I undertook my GP training on returning home and completed that in 2005, when I joined the Royal College of General Practitioners. I also undertook some research as part of my training and was awarded with my Masters degree (MPhil) in 2006. I followed that up with Qualification in Teaching in 2007. I have been a Clinical Teacher at QUB since 2003.
I became a full time GP Partner in 2006 in Crossgar, Co-Down. During that time I performed minor surgery for my patients, removing cysts and skin tags but not dealing with any skin cancers.
A series of life events lead to my decision to return for another year to Australia with my family in 2012. It was during this year working a s GP I became fascinated with skin cancer diagnosis and management.
In Australia patients would expect me, as their GP, to perform a full body skin skin to rule out any skin cancers (as there is so much skin cancer in Australia, people are very aware of it. Patients ask for a skin check just as people here might ask for a blood pressure check). I was under-skilled in this area and so enrolled in several courses to learn more.
I met Professor Cliff Rosendahl, as Brisbane GP, who taught me about dermoscopy. He was generous to allow me to join him in his practice for a while; I learned so much from his expertise. In fact it was with him I saw my first ever melanoma in a patient. It was soon after learning from him that I diagnosed my first ever melanoma and we wrote it up as a case report and that can be found here.
Back to Northern Ireland
I returned to Crossgar in 2013 full of zest and enthusiasm to share this new skill to diagnose skin cancers called dermoscopy, that I had learned in Australia. I set up an educational group to teach GPs this skill.
I wanted to learn more and grow in my dermatology skills but I couldn't do that while I remained a GP partner. I had to leave the practice to take up a role as 'GP with Special interest in Dermatology' in the Southern Trust, working dermatology clinics in Craigavon Area Hospital & Daisy Hill Hospital. I continued to do some locum GP sessions and also continued my long term role teaching medical students at QUB.
I was asked to join the team at Newry Clinic in 2016 and I have been building my private dermatology practice there since. Current I hold clinics on Monday afternoon & Thursday morning.
I established 'Dr Finbars Skin Clinic' website, Facebook & Instagram pages in 2020 in order to reach more people and share education on skin health. I also opened a clinic (currently Tuesday evenings) in Loughbrickland.
I have combined my role as GP, and teacher to establish myself as an international Speaker. I have organised Skin Cancer conferences for local GPs with international speakers from Australia, Poland & UK.
I have traveled to the UK several times to present to a delegation of GPs to teach on skin cancer recognition and dermoscopy.
I have created an online course for healthcare professions in primary care and continue to educate (mainly over video conference these days!).
Since my sabbatical in 2012 I also underwent a personal health transformation; physically and mentally. I lost 3 stone in weight and became more conscious of what I was eating. I became increasing competitive, taking up sport again after 15 years with next to no exercise. I am now considered an elite triathlete having won 3 European medals in the sport representing Ireland.
As a doctor, both in general practice and in dermatology I was taught recognise illness, make a diagnosis and provide a treatment plan. I always believed supplements and other products were unnecessary so long as you didn't smoke, did a bit of exercise and watched your weight.
That might indeed be correct when looking at the evidence base for treating illness, however it totally misses that fact that many people don't just want to live free from illness, they want to optimise their health.
This holds true for general health and longevity (reducing risk of chronic disease from Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and Alzheimer's dementia) but also in skin health.
To optimise your skin health you must optimise your overall health.
My mission is to provide an excellent and safe service to all patients and to:
save lives by detecting and treating skin cancers early and to reassure patients on lengthy waiting lists who have benign skin lesions.
improve patients skin health and overall wellbeing by provide easily understandable, practical education and advice.
As your skin is part of your whole self the advice will also include information which will help your overall health & wellbeing. I advise on how and why to improve sleep, exercise, diet and manage stress levels.
I will advise on prescription medicines, supplements, probiotics and skin treatments which have an evidence base and are proven to help your skin. Many of these benefits will spill over into your general health, reducing your risk of chronic disease and increasing your health and vitality. It worked for me and works for many others.