Q: What is the value of mentorship?
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Explore This IssueNovember 2016
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A: I believe in it more and more every day. With the challenges of healthcare, these novice clinicians really need people they can talk to and look up to. It’s important for us to provide role models … they need support through school, but also beyond school.
ARHP Ann Kunkel Advocacy Award
Christina Helging Opava, PhD, RPT
Professor, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
Background: Dr. Opava, who has arthritis herself, has been a physical therapist in primary care, rehabilitation facilities and hospitals throughout Sweden for nearly 40 years. She earned her PhD in 1993 and was named professor at the Karolinska Institutet in 2006.
An ARHP member since 1993, she joined the organization shortly after attending her first ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. She received the ARHP’s Distinguished Scholar Award in 2002, an honor she considers a milestone in her career. Her latest achievement recognizes ARHP members who make significant contributions to rheumatology research, education and patient care.
“Ever since I attended my first ARHP meeting, in Atlanta as a PhD student back in 1992, I have been generously included in this great community, not least by Drs. Marian Minor and Kate Lorig, two admired colleagues that I wrote to before taking off [for that meeting]. They and many other ARHP members have shared their knowledge with me, and quite a few have visited with me in Stockholm and become great friends,” Dr. Opava says.
Dr. Opava has authored 70 original papers in peer-reviewed publications, contributed to textbooks and supervised 11 PhD students to graduation. Her research focuses on physical activity and health in rheumatic disease, and she spent a semester as visiting professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Her voice extends beyond the classroom and publications, as she routinely advocated for improved rheumatic care on Swedish television, radio and other media outlets.
A past board member of the Swedish Rheumatism Association, she has been the vice president of EULAR since 2013.
‘During my training to be a physical therapist, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but not happy about what I learned about its
rehabilitation. I wanted to change clinical practice by advocacy, research & implementation.’ —Dr. Opava
Q: What sparked your interest in rheumatology?
A: During my training to be a physical therapist, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but not happy about what I learned about its rehabilitation. I wanted to change clinical practice by advocacy, research and implementation.