Where Are They Now: Ruth Fernandez Ruiz, MD

Ruth Fernandez Ruiz, MD. Research Fellow, Division of Rheumatology, New York University School of Medicine; Rheumatologist, Bellevue Hospital, New York, NY

What were some of the projects you worked on while you were at Iowa and how did this work prepare you for your career? 

While in Iowa, I participated in various clinical research projects with the Division of Immunology, which helped me become a stronger candidate for fellowship application and made me realize research is an aspect of academic life that I wanted to continue in the future. I also participated in quality improvement projects with my co-residents, one of which I presented at the 2017 Society of General Internal Medicine meeting in Washington, DC. All these experiences taught me the importance of mentorship and the value of collaborative work. 

What is a “fun fact” (however you want to interpret this) about you that folks here might not know? 

I absolutely love playing ping pong. I can play for hours and do not get tired! I also get very competitive when I play.

What was most valuable to you during your years at the University of Iowa?

I was very fortunate to have great mentors and a wonderful program director, Dr. Manish Suneja, who supported me every step in the way.  

What is one memory that stands out from your time at Iowa?

My favorite memory is meeting with my Venezuelan (and Venezuelan-adjacent) friends and colleagues from UIHC to make “Hallacas”  – a traditional Venezuelan December dish.

What is something you learned at Iowa that you still use in your current role?

So many things! But what quickly comes to mind is to always keep in mind the “Do-not-miss diagnoses” when evaluating a patient. I can still hear Dr. Suneja’s voice reminding us of this! I believe “do-not-miss diagnoses” are of particular importance in rheumatology, as patients may present with life-threatening conditions (infections, pulmonary embolism, MI, you name it!) mimicking flares of their underlying autoimmune disease. 

How do you maintain a life-work balance in your current role?

This has always been challenging for me, but with the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even more difficult. I do try to organize my academic tasks so I leave time for myself and my family (including my cats). Trying to compartmentalize duties is very important, especially when working from home. My cats are also great at reminding me when I need to stop working and start paying attention to them, so that helps! 

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