Q: What advice would you give a rheumatologist interested in research?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2010
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A: Be true to yourself. You can’t force yourself to do research if you don’t have the innate drive. Seek out an environment where people have been successful and will help to develop your innate abilities.
Suzanne L. Bowyer, MD
Director, Section of Pediatric Rheumatology, and Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
Background: Dr. Bowyer takes an adult passion to the practice of children’s medicine. A 15-year volunteer with ACR, she sees the professional society as a conduit through which she can help promote the undersized field of pediatric rheumatology. She understands that the field draws fewer young physicians than other subspecialties, but she emphasizes—to anyone interested in the sales pitch—that pediatric rheumatologists love their jobs.
Dr. Bowyer sees her volunteer work as part and parcel of her responsibilities to her field. She proudly notes that the ACR has established a visiting professor program for medical schools that lack a pediatric rheumatologist to give trainees exposure to pediatric rheumatologists who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to the discipline. Those and other efforts to encourage more budding pediatricians to focus on rheumatology have boosted the number of first-year fellows nationwide from less than 10 to nearly 30. That’s a far cry from the numbers when she completed her pediatric fellowships at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, both in Denver.
Q: Why add volunteer work to your already crowded plate?
A: Pediatric rheumatology is a small field. We need to do so much to take care of the kids and develop the science in our own field to move the ball forward and improve care. There are very few pediatric rheumatologists—less than 200 of them around the country—so much of what we’ve done in the ACR is to teach adult rheumatologists about caring for children with arthritis.
Q: Why is it so important to you to promote pediatric rheumatology?
A: Over one-third of medical schools don’t have pediatric rheumatologists. Kids in the U.S. have to travel an average of 50 miles to see a pediatric rheumatologist. We all have patients who travel two to three hours to come see us. We need to get pediatric rheumatologists in all areas, not just the large cities and states.
Q: You have received numerous awards from other organizations, as well as the 2009 Deborah Kredich Award from the ACR. How does this latest one compare?