Because access to care is not always guaranteed, we’ve been working to help close the gap on the nation’s rheumatologist shortage through our fellowship initiative. This year we announced four new fellowship awards . One of those grants was offered to SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which recently announced their fellowship has been awarded to Dr. Sabina Ratner.
Dr. Ratner will be a welcome addition to this program. She began her undergraduate training at Brooklyn College, followed by graduate training as a physician’s assistant (PA) at SUNY Downstate in NY. She earned her medical degree from American University of Antigua College of Medicine in Antigua and Barbuda.
As we go through life, events that may be deemed unfortunate often result in serendipitous moments. It wasn’t until a terrible accident where I was hit by a car that I realized I had a second chance at life and found my true calling.
I worked as a PA at NY Methodist Hospital for seven years before my accident. During my employment, I covered a variety of services, and I discovered that there were many facets to medicine that were fascinating, stimulating and rewarding. My experiences helped sharpen my clinical acumen and appreciation and understanding of medicine. Initially, I worked with the department of surgery, which included general surgery and orthopedics. My duties included patient care in the clinic and floors, emergency room admissions, pre- and post-operative care and counseling patients. As a PA, I was inspired by the passion and wisdom of the people I worked with. My colleagues recognized my aptitude for medicine and strongly encouraged me to get my medical degree.
After my accident, I went to rehab for physical therapy for my left leg and ankle. There, I met many people who were suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, back pain and hip and other joint problems. I empathized with these patients. Seeing people in pain and losing their functional mobility made me realize I wanted to seek a profession where I could help alleviate the pain and suffering of others. I found the rehab experience to be very rewarding and realized that, with proper treatment, people were able to regain their function, mobility and independence. My interest grew more and more for the field of rheumatology, so I went back to school and earned my medical degree.
The next stage of this journey was medical residency. I chose to explore the field of rheumatology further and opted to take as many electives as I could to learn more about this field. The experience further piqued my interest and helped me realize how fascinating and intricate rheumatology is.
There are many reasons why I want to join the field of rheumatology. I find it to be a very diverse field that is rapidly evolving and allows for the treatment of a broad range of conditions. Also, it is a specialty that can be challenging because a qualified physician must be able to treat different disease processes, solving medical mysteries. It is exciting and gratifying to help improve the quality of lives of others. I want to train and learn from the dedicated experts, which will give me the opportunity to broaden my understanding and knowledge about the disease progression and treatment with new agents that prevent further destruction in the body.
While the clinical experience is important to me, I’m also interested in pursuing biomedical research. Fundamentally, I am intrigued by the immune system. With the advances in disease-modifying agents and with new immunotherapies, we can improve patients’ lives. That’s why I hope to follow my passion and become a rheumatologist, because to me it’s very rewarding to see my patients get back to their routine and enjoy their life.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Dr. Ratner will be able to follow her dreams and become a valuable addition to the number of new rheumatologists through this fellowship program.