TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A local medical professional is taking on an unlikely new role - fashion designer.
But it's not what you think.
Patricia Ferrer, 51, is a board-certified physician's assistant who specializes in dermatology.
She has more than 15 years of experience, including diagnosing and treating skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the U.S.
But thanks to a sewing class at Pima Community College, Ferrer has also created a product designed to help protect people from the sun and from potentially getting skin cancer on the backs of their hands.
By accident, Ferrer combined her passion for sewing, her need for a product, her current career and trying to prevent the damage she sees on a daily basis, by creating Palm Free™ Sun Gloves.
The part-time fashion student now has a pending patent, a unique step that not many students take. The process could take at least two years.
Ferrer has already earned both a bachelor's degree and master's degree, but now she's adding something else to her academic resume – a fashion design certificate from PCC.
"Pat is focused, motivated, driven, and a true success story," said Nancy Spaulding, a PCC fashion and design sewing instructor. "I think it's very difficult to do what Pat did, especially if you don't have the technical knowledge."
Ferrer's gloves are made out a special UFB50 knit fabric that loops onto a user's thumbs and pinky fingers and only covers the backs of their hands, leaving the palms exposed. It's something she's always wanted.
"That way I'm able to maintain the grip on my racket, my golf club, my photography equipment, whatever I may have in my hand," she said.
UPF50 fabric has been tested using the American Society for Testing Materials textile industry standards.
It's considered "excellent" sun protective fabric and covers at least 97 percent of ultraviolet radiation.
"It's not reasonable to wear a full glove here in Arizona," she said. "It's just too hot."
Ferrer said people who could benefit include those who are exposed to the sun for extended periods of time like tennis players, golfers, runners, gardeners, hikers and truck drivers.
"On any clinic day, the majority of patients that I see, they have skin cancer usually on the head, neck, arms, and hands," Ferrer said. "These are the most chronically sun-exposed areas of our body."
The gloves can be purchased online in single or double packs starting at $14.
Once reaching a profit from the sales, all profits will go to humanitarian efforts to run a burn clinic in Chiapas, Mexico.
Twice a year, Ferrer travels there and volunteers her time to treat burn victims at no cost.
She currently works at Dyson Dermatology, a clinic that has offices in Tucson and Green Valley.