At the 2012 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., the ACR and the ARHP honored a group of distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to rheumatology research, education, and patient care. The Rheumatologist spoke with the ARHP winners about their individual contributions to advancing rheumatology. (See the December 2012 issue for Q&As with the ACR award winners.)
ARHP Lifetime Achievement Award
Saralynn Allaire, ScD
Professor of Medicine, Boston University
Background: Dr. Allaire’s career gravitated to rheumatology practice and research in large part because of her own struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She was diagnosed with the condition as a young adult. Trained as a pediatric nurse, it was the difficulties of working with RA on a hospital unit that guided her to a career in which she could use her “communication skills and thinking skills,” she says. She has worked at Boston University since 1980, earning her doctorate in rehabilitation counseling in 1990 and becoming a professor of medicine in 2006. Her research focuses on work disability in relation to arthritis and interventions for it. Her groundbreaking research, a randomized trial conducted from 1997–2002, proved that early intervention with rehabilitation counseling can prevent work disability for RA patients. An internationally recognized expert and speaker, Dr. Allaire has been first author on 29 abstracts at ACR annual meetings and was named the ARHP’s Distinguished Lecturer in 2007.
“My research results have been positive,” she says. “That’s the most gratifying part of my research. Finding something that works and hoping that it can get put into practice and be available to help other people, because rheumatoid arthritis has had such an important impact on my ability to work, and I know it does with others; it’s such an important issue.”
Q: What is the number-one take-home message you have for your peers?
A: Address employment issues early. Get a person thinking early, so they can plan ahead. My research has shown that is effective, and it does help people work longer, just by thinking and planning ahead and figuring out what the problems are and working on correcting those problems. Whether it’s getting yourself into another job, or if you’re having difficulties at your current job, there are things you can do to alleviate those problems. If you do those things early, then you’ll preserve your ability to work.
Q: What are the biggest obstacles persons with RA face in the workplace?