Her early research examined the most beneficial dose and frequency of exercise for patients with various types of arthritic conditions, mainly rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and lumbar spinal stenosis. In recent years, Dr. Iversen has integrated behavioral interventions into her clinical trials “to help patients stay adherent with the exercise prescriptions, so they can gain the best from what they were receiving.”
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Explore This IssueDecember 2011
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As professor and chair of physical therapy at Northeastern University, she guides more than 700 students and more than 50 full- and part-time faculty. She spends two days a week in research, and three days teaching or tending to administrative duties. Her current research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, (NIH) she says, is looking at how “to best understand how some patients remain physically active in the face of a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis while others do not, and what can we do to help patients who are struggling with their chronic disease.”
Q: How did your career find its way into rheumatology?
A: Actually, it was the people that I interacted with along my career. When I was in high school trying to decide whether I wanted to be a doctor, I shadowed a rheumatology nurse, Jayne Daly, a nurse at Robert [Breck] Brigham, which is now part of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I thought that rheumatology was interesting. After college, I went to Denmark on an international exchange program that was set up for licensed practicing healthcare providers by Dr. Matthew Liang, who is an ACR Master, and there I had more exposure to rheumatology.
When I returned to the United States, I decided to pursue a research career in rheumatology and continued my graduate work. Now, I am fortunate to be a member of a strong research team led by Dr. Daniel Solomon.
Q: What does teaching mean to you personally and professionally?
A: Mentoring somebody is more than just helping that person develop as a professional. It’s learning and growing with them as an individual. Many of the students I’ve worked with I still keep in contact with now, even though they’ve been out 10 or 15 years. Some are faculty at other institutions. Some of my PhD students are engaged at a higher research level. For me, mentoring doesn’t seem like work; it’s a shared experience.
Q: What advice would you give to young researchers?
A: You need to keep your mind open to different types of funding. NIH is the golden ring, if you’re an American, but that funding is very tight and highly competitive.