Q: How do you impress upon the next generation of rheumatologists the value of volunteerism to professional and advocacy groups?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2010
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A: It has to start on day one of the fellowship and encouraging them to not only learn the book-smart type things that need to be done and the research activities that are expected of them, but to stay involved in the community itself, the Arthritis Foundation, the J.I.A. (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis) camps. … It’s not just staying within the clinic and seeing patients. There’s a responsibility to give back, if you will, to the field and the arthritis community.
Patience H. White, MD, MA
Vice President for Public Health, Arthritis Foundation; Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Background: Dr. White has been in an academic medical center practice seeing adult and pediatric rheumatology patients for more than 30 years. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. She has completed rheumatology fellowships at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (adult) and Northwick Park Hospital in London (pediatric).
Dr. White was instrumental in developing the “Fight Arthritis Pain” osteoarthritis awareness (OA) campaign, a collaborative effort of the Ad Council, Arthritis Foundation, and ACR. She is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Practice to develop an algorithm to help youth with special healthcare needs transition successfully to adult healthcare.
Q: You have a lot of irons in the fire. Is your work more focused on patients, physicians, or policymakers?
A: I’d probably say all three. I want to change health policy, so it’s a lot about gathering national partners to influence policymakers about doing the right thing for people with arthritis. It’s about assisting physicians to help the person with arthritis can get the right diagnosis and be treated quickly. It is about trying to educate people with arthritis, so they are armed with the right information at the right time and they can get to the right physician and get the right treatment.
Q: What changes have you seen in the past 30 years?
A: It’s the best time ever to be a rheumatologist. There is so much we can offer our patients, so much we can do to help people get better. It’s so exciting. When I started practice, I saw kids who had juvenile arthritis, many of whom were going to grow up with a severe disability. We don’t see that today. It’s just fantastic.