Paula Marchetta, MD, MA, MBA, became a member of the ACR in 1989, during her rheumatology fellowship at Bellevue Hospital and the New York University (NYU) Medical Center. Just 10 years earlier, rheumatology had been an unlikely path. Dr. Marchetta—with a love of the arts—was pursuing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English. But she found common threads between the pursuit of medicine and her love for language and story. This month, Dr. Marchetta, CEO and managing partner of Concorde Medical Group PLLC, becomes the next president of the ACR.
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The Rheumatologist: With an educational background in English, how did you end up in rheumatology?
Dr. Marchetta: I had no intention of going into medicine when I started college. I loved the arts and humanities, and I wanted to be a writer. Halfway through college, I had an epiphany: … I was a good student, so I thought, “Where could you really use your abilities to the maximum capacity in service to others?”
I left the world of humanities behind and took a deep dive into a science curriculum when I started medical school. It was a really steep learning curve, but it gave me incredible discipline, because I always felt like I was not going to make it.
In my third year, when we started clinical rotations, I was able to use my ability to really synthesize and tell a story—which is really what I wanted to do. I could interview a patient and put things together in a medically logical way so that someone could read the history of the patient’s illness, understand the background, be able to generate differential diagnoses and understand not only what was wrong, but what needed to be done to treat the patient with a best guess until you had answers.
I would have stayed in internal medicine, but I wanted the more in-depth knowledge of a specialist in a field that had a whole-patient approach. Rheumatology was a natural draw for that. Rheumatology is the most intellectual of the medical subspecialties, and it’s full of wonderful people, incredibly interesting diseases and patients with whom we develop long-term relationships.
TR: You earned an MBA in 2009. How has that served you?
Dr. Marchetta: I became managing partner and CEO of Concorde Medical Group in 2002. Being someone who likes to be credentialed, I [earned] my MBA and have used that not only in managing the group, but also in service to NYU through committee work dealing with a lot of the changes in healthcare. Then I began volunteering with the College, and I went to the Committee on Finance, then to the Board and then to the Executive Committee as treasurer, which I really loved. It’s wonderful to be able to use the hard-earned knowledge I learned in business school in service to the College, which is what I have wanted to do—to give back to the ACR for all the wonderful things it does for the specialty and in educating us.