Content originally appearing in the December 2015 issue of The Rheumatologist.
ACR Distinguished Fellowship Program Director Award:
Recipient: Beth Jonas, MD, associate professor of medicine, and director, Rheumatology Training Program, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
Background: Teaching is in Dr. Jonas' DNA, both literally and figuratively. Her father and sister are both teachers, so the intersection of academia and rheumatology was a natural career choice that quickly solidified when she was tapped as chief resident at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
"I really enjoyed that year of interacting with junior residents and students," Dr. Jonas says. "It really put the bug in my bonnet about teaching and about sharing my interest and expertise."
She's been doing it ever since, and has led the rheumatology program at UNC since 2001. She is also a founding member of Carolinas Fellows Collaborative, which aims to develop educational programs for rheumatology fellows across North and South Carolina. She is an active ACR (American College of Rheumatology) member, having served on several committees. She was also awarded a 2015 Rheumatology Research Foundation Clinician Scholar Educator Award.
Q&A with Dr. Jonas:
Q: Why is training your passion?
A: We have a shortage of rheumatologists, and it is really acutely clear to many people now. We've been talking about it for a long time. This is the first time - in the last few years - that I've really felt that pressure in my practice. It's very real to us here and now that we don't have enough practicing rheumatologists. Our goal to train people to go out into practice to take care of people is very, very important.
Q: You work with medical students too?
A: When you're a training program director, you're training people who have already decided they want to be rheumatologists. One of our other goals is to find people who don't know yet they want to become rheumatologists and help them decide that this is the type of career that will be satisfying for them. We're now working a lot with medical students at our university, with the hope that we're going to get more people interested in the field.
Q:How do you connect with students and fellows?
A: I wake up every day, tremendously excited by rheumatology. Our energy about what we do can be infectious. If you're infectious about what you do, you have learners who feel that excitement, and you can share with them the importance of the work you do -- and the importance to the patients of the work that you do.