Sabrina Gmuca, MD
Pediatrics Instructor, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.; Attending Physician, Division of Rheumatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Background: One of the few and the proud, Dr. Gmuca is dedicated to pediatric rheumatology, with a focus on pediatric patients with amplified musculoskeletal pain syndromes (AMPS). She views AMPS as a “huge public health issue.”
“Children with chronic pain are over-medicalized,” she says. “The psychosocial consequences of chronic pain impact children’s performance in school, and result in emotional and financial sequelae for their family members. Standardization of care, primarily with a non-pharmacologic approach, is needed to improve the long-term outcomes of affected children.”
By leveraging claims data, she hopes to identify risk factors for opioid exposure among children with juvenile fibromyalgia syndrome (JFMS). The goal: targeted interventions to minimize child opioid use. She also has a pilot grant to investigate the degree of subjective and objective neurocognitive impairment in children with JFMS.
Among her many awards, she received a 2016 Rheumatology Research Foundation Pediatric Research Award, a travel award to attend the ACR’s Rheumatology Research Workshop and her institution’s 2017 Distinguished Research Trainee Award.
‘Making definitive decisions regarding my patients’ treatment can be daunting, but I’m embracing the autonomy.’ —Dr. Gmuca
Q: What’s the most fulfilling part of your fellowship training?
A: Getting to know my patients and their families over the course of fellowship and then starting my career at the same institution afforded me the opportunity to see them improve and help them battle bumps in the road. I receive fulfillment by longitudinally seeing them thrive and having their medical needs and questions challenge me as a clinician-scientist.
Q: What’s most challenging?
A: The transition from fellow to attending. Making definitive decisions regarding my patients’ treatment can be daunting, but I’m embracing the autonomy and am grateful to work alongside experienced nurses and physicians who are readily accessible and happy to share their expertise.
Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of rheumatology fellows?
A: I recommend being flexible and open to opportunities that present themselves. Pediatric rheumatology, specifically, is a small field, and being malleable and open-minded to working in a variety of research areas allows for improved collaboration and sharing of resources.
Q: Where do you want to be in 10 years?
A: An independent clinical investigator with established National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. I aim to be an expert on the management of AMPS, as well as have a track record of published research addressing the etiology, epidemiology and effective treatment strategies for AMPS, as well other types of chronic pain in children.