Q: What does this award mean to you?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2013
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A: When you receive an award like this, you think of the people who have influenced your life the most, about the people whom I consider to have been my mentors. All of my teachers and mentors now are younger. I may be the occasional mentor for somebody who’s in the learning phase that I was in 40 or 50 years ago—or even 30 years ago—but now I’m learning from young people there is an ongoing learning process that we never leave in medicine. It’s wonderful.
ACR Paulding Phelps Award
Harry Gewanter, MD
Pediatric and Adolescent Health Partners, PC, Richmond, Va.; Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System
Background: Dr. Gewanter says he goes to the office every day to play with kids and then “I run my mouth on behalf of them.” But, when you’re born in Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s no surprise to make a career out of standing up for the little guy.
Dr. Gewanter majored in Psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and earned his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. He completed pediatric residency at the University of Rochester (N.Y), and a Robert Wood Johnson General Pediatric Academic Fellowship in rheumatology. He currently works as a pediatrician in private practice in Richmond, Va., and spends two days a month at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. He is a board member of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Arthritis Foundation, a past recipient of the ARA Senior Rheumatology Scholar Award, and a RheumPAC board member.
Q: Why did you choose a career in pediatric rheumatology?
A: A lot of where I come from is personal experience as a parent. Three of my four children had Individualized Educational Plans, all for various reasons. I’ve been on both sides of the fence dealing with schools, special education issues, mental health issues, etc. Much of what these kids need are systems issues. Getting to school, appropriate school services and accommodations, paperwork.
Q: What systemic changes are needed for pediatric rheumatology patients?
A: There needs to be recognition that chronic illnesses are chronic illnesses, and they need to be treated appropriately and vigorously. Take, for instance, the biologic medications. If you can treat someone aggressively early on, and you can keep them in school or in work, even if that medicine costs a whole lot, the societal benefits are a great return on the investment.