Paulding Phelps was the very first private practitioner to become ACR president. Dr. Kaplan was second. He recognized the importance of keeping clinical practice and research unified in academic and private practice settings.
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Explore This IssueApril 2018
I reassured him that this initiative is alive today. With the generous donation of Norman Gaylis, MD, a rheumatologist in private practice in Florida, the Rheumatology Research Foundation has expanded its portfolio to include a Research Award for Rheumatologists in Community Practice.
Dr. Kaplan understood the urgent need, which remains to this day, to attract more physicians to the field of rheumatology. In his 1994 ACR presidential address, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, he strongly voiced his concern, “I am more worried that patients with rheumatic disease in the next century will not have available the expertise of a specialist in rheumatic diseases. I am worried about the long-term viability of our subspecialty.”
He advocated for looking for candidates as early as medical school or at the post-graduate level. His strategy also encompassed identifying those with leadership potential and takes pride in recruiting Elizabeth Tindall, MD, Neal Birnbaum, MD, Joe Croft, MD, and James O’Dell, MD, to serve in the ACR, all of whom later served as ACR presidents. Family members are fair game to Dr. Kaplan as well. His presidential address was actually titled, “My Granddaughter, the Rheumatologist.” Michelle was just seven-and-a-half years old at the time, but he opened with a bold statement that he would like her to become a rheumatologist. As it turns out, Michelle did not go into medicine, but into psychology. She now has a 6-year-old son, Drake. I told Dr. Kaplan, “Maybe your great-grandson will be the rheumatologist”—nothing like a ray of hope to brighten the day for a retired rheumatologist.
Honors & Awards
Throughout his professional career, Dr. Kaplan was honored with several awards. He was inducted as an ACR Master (1995) and was the recipient of the Paulding Phelps Award for outstanding service to patients, community and the practice of medicine (1996).
The award he is most proud of is the ACR Presidential Gold Medal, which he received in 2012. The Presidential Gold Medal is the highest award that the ACR can bestow, in recognition of outstanding achievements in rheumatology over an entire career. It had never been given to a rheumatologist in private practice until Dr. Kaplan. Such a befitting honor for someone who served our specialty and championed the cause of rheumatologists around the country who dedicate their lives to treating patients day in and day out.