Rheumatologists spend so many years treating the same patients, sometimes they start to feel like family. But for some doctors, it’s more than a feeling. The specialty attracts its fair share of relatives who can compare rheumatic notes, discuss complex cases and provide a built-in resource for advice. Brothers. Cousins. Fathers and daughters. In-laws. Husband and wife. Call it family practice, rheumatology style. Here are their stories.
A Novel Relationship
Leonard “Len” Calabrese, DO, FACR, has been a rheumatologist for 37 years. His Cleveland Clinic business card is overflowing with titles, including vice chair of the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases, co-director of the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research and director of RJ Fasenmyer Center for Clinical Immunology. To Cassandra “Cassie” Calabrese, DO, he’s just dad.
‘[Dr. Len Calabrese] likes to say, at Cleveland Clinic, it’s ‘Take Your Daughter to Work Day,’ every day.’
Cassie followed her father’s path into rheumatology, but not because he pushed. She had a natural affinity for microbiology in high school, one pushed further by a stint in a Cleveland Clinic laboratory that most high schoolers never see. Also, her mom is a recently retired mental health worker there, and her sister is an administrator who runs the immunology center where the Drs. Calabrese both work.
Given the family affair, when Cassie decided she wanted a dual focus on rheumatology and infectious diseases, it wasn’t hard to pick where. Cleveland Clinic got approval from the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education to create a one-of-kind fellowship for board certification in both specialties. And now she works with about as good a sounding board as possible: Her dad.
“It’s been wonderful,” says Cassie, now in the final year of her novel three-year fellowship. “He has been the best resource through my whole life, and since I’ve been in medicine—for obvious reasons. He’s such a great resource. We see a lot of complex cases, for example, patients with rheumatologic diseases on immunosuppression that get some weird infection that you don’t see everywhere.
“We get a lot at the Cleveland Clinic. A lot of people ask me if I don’t like working with my dad, if I do like working with my dad, what it’s like. I love it. His office is right down the hall from mine. I staff patients with him. We do research together. As my dad likes to say, at Cleveland Clinic, it’s ‘Take Your Daughter to Work Day,’ every day.”