It’s not far-fetched to assume that most medical students have no exposure to pediatric rheumatology while in school. The ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) is hoping to change that.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueJune 2011
Also By This Author
Linda Myers, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, recently visited the Meharry Medical College in Nashville as part of the ACR REF/Amgen Pediatric Rheumatology Visiting Professorship Program. Since the program started, nearly 50 specialists have made similar visits to institutions where no established pediatric rheumatology expertise exists.
Dr. Myers believes the program provides exposure to this specialty for schools that do not currently have a pediatric rheumatology program.
“Children are our future,” says Dr. Myers. “Their health is important for the future of our society. Since children suffering from rheumatic diseases often have chronic conditions, it’s critical that they’re able to see someone trained in pediatric rheumatology in order to get proper care and treatment.”
Meharry Medical College is a private school with a mission to promote diversity, with a special emphasis on teaching minority students and helping underserved communities. The REF matched Dr. Myers with the school, and she spent two days meeting with faculty, students, and administrators. She participated in grand rounds, with a specific emphasis on lupus.
She says the students at Meharry were enthusiastic about her visit. “They asked a lot of questions and were very alert,” says Dr. Myers. “The mission of the school is unique and important, and they were so enthused to have this opportunity. The students said this was the only lecture on pediatric rheumatology that they got.”
Dr. Myers believes that the program can not only help patients receive better care but can also inspire more students to select pediatric rheumatology as their field of practice.
Apply for REF Grants
Applications are now available for the ACR REF core awards and grant programs. Applications are due August 1, 2011. Visit www.rheumatology.org/REF for more information.
“I had a professor who told me that a former student of his came back and said to him, ‘You’re the reason I decided to go into rheumatology.’ And I know that most of the time, we may never hear that directly,” says Dr. Myers. “But we can still have an impact.”
Dr. Myers feels that it’s important for students to learn about pediatric rheumatology because there is currently such a strong demand for specialists in this area. Statistics reinforce this argument: According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 300,000 children are currently affected by rheumatic diseases.1 However, there are only a little over 200 certified pediatric rheumatologists practicing in the United States.