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ICYMI: The Greatest Rheumatologist - Part II

Sep 06, 2021 1:45 pm

Wow! I hope you read part I of yesterday's “Greatest Rheumatologist” article.  So many big names and yet, other names and stories that were equally inspirational.

If you read the comments of the part I article you can clearly see several themes emerge.

  • The greats were more than notable, highly published, widely traveled famous rheumatologists. They made their greatest impact at home, with their daily work and with the example they set for their trainees and colleagues.  Excellence begins at home and is propagated through each patient or the next experiment.
  • The Greatest Rheumatologists are often at the head of a pedigree of many great rheumatologists who follow the legacy and amplify the work of their mentors.
  • While many were pioneers in science and immunology who left their mark for all to see, what was not seen was the discipline, dedication, and the mentor's “thundering velvet hand” in guiding the careers of many.
  • What I liked most are the stories. These stories typify the greatness and uniqueness of the mentor. These should be collected into a novel. It would be a rheumatology Best Seller.
  • This is but one sampling of suggestions. Lacking are the many great women who have pioneered Rheumatology, such as Mary Betty Stevens, Bevra Hahn, Barbara Ansell, Desiree van der Heidje, and many more. We need more women mentors and leaders as there will be more women in rheumatology in the future.
  • My Greats include working with the true greats – Dr. Morris Ziff, Dr. Peter Lipsky and Dr. Artie Kavanaugh. Each carries the trait of dogged determination for excellence and love of science and medicine. Each was first to the table and last to leave a lasting impression.
  • The unsung many great rheumatologists were well represented by a great comment from Dr. Alan Morton of Detroit who wrote about his uncle, Dr. Newt Rothenberg, who cared for “thousands of patients and remained under the radar for decades”.  Newt and many others are responsible for your success today. 

My best answer to this question is to requote Dr. Peter Merkel, that Metropolitian rheumatologist with a vascular proclivity, who wrote, “The greatest rheumatologist I know may be the next trainee with whom I work.  I hope to help nurture his or her enthusiasm for our fascinating field, guide a lifelong pursuit of learning, and provide the education and circumstances for this new rheumatologist to deliver exceptional care for many decades.”

My sincere thanks to the many rheumatologists who reflexively and quickly were inspired to write about their great mentor. It’s obvious these giants had a major effect on your career path, work ethic, devotion to patients, and passion for research and drive to make a change.  Congratulations to them and those of you who, by reading these articles, are inspired to recollect and remember why you are who you are.


The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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