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New fellowship program helps ease shortage of pediatric rheumatologists

More than 6,000 children in Minnesota live with the pain of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. But the state has only six pediatric rheumatologists to provide specialty care for these young patients.

A nationwide shortage of pediatric rheumatologists prompted the Minneapolis-based Wasie Foundation to take part in a challenge grant: If the University of Minnesota raised half of the $1 million needed to start a pediatric rheumatology fellowship program, The Wasie Foundation would provide the other half.

Now the match is complete, and the fellowship program is in full swing. The program’s first fellow began training in 2009. A second enrolled last summer, and a third will begin this summer.

“Our board … really wanted to see the program get going,” says Jan Preble, The Wasie Foundation’s vice president of programs. “Mostly we’re just grateful that there will be more people in practice to serve the children in need.”

The three-year fellowship includes one year of clinical training and two years devoted to research.

“We hope that by training more pediatric rheumatologists for the region, we will help to ensure that children with rheumatic diseases have timely access to the subspecialty physicians they need,” says pediatric rheumatologist and fellowship program coleader Bryce Binstadt, M.D., Ph.D.

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