Q: What inspires to you to continue your clinical work parallel to your research?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2010
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A: I see this as an opportunity to have a high impact on the health and quality of life of these patients, by contributing in the short and medium term to their well-being by providing care, but also, in the medium and long term, by increasing the knowledge of what leads to the development of these diseases and their complications.
Mark L. Robbins, MD, MPH
Physician, Department of Rheumatology, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Boston
Background: Dr. Robbins appreciates his award, but is quick to share the pride with others, saying in an e-mail that “there were a lot of other people involved in the work that is being recognized, so in a way it is an acknowledgment of the efforts of all the people I worked with.” Dr. Robbins believes that the ACR serves to support the practicing rheumatologist, particularly in “tumultuous times in medicine” that are punctuated by the growth of electronic medical records, quality reporting, and the financial impact of healthcare reform.
Dr. Robbins, who earned his Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, encourages rheumatologists from all types of practice to volunteer, in part because he believes “everyone, whether they are from private, multispecialty, or academic medical practice has something valuable to contribute toward improving education, research, and clinical practice.”
Q: What is the state of physician volunteerism today and why is it important?
A: The productivity emphasis in your work life and the relative time bankruptcy that everybody is facing … makes it harder to find people who are willing to volunteer. They may be more protective of their time. I think we’re all feeling a little bit more squeezed and the question is, What do you give up? But I think [service] is vital. The staff are the foundations of what the ACR has done …. the volunteers are the enriching characteristics that provide the content and some of the innovation.
Q: What do you get out of the service you put in?
A: It is about intellectual stimulation. It is about being with, being around, and working on projects with essentially some of the most innovative and knowledgeable thinkers in the field of rheumatology.
Q: You give so much credit to colleagues whose work is recognized by proxy with an award like this. What do awards like this mean in the greater context?