Ian Ferguson, MD, is a specialist in pediatric autoimmune diseases such as juvenile arthritis and lupus.
“Often, I spend a lot of time reassuring parents that their child does not have an autoimmune disease, which is rare. In fact, we get more referrals to rule out diseases than actually seeing them,” Dr. Ferguson explains. “But when I do make a diagnosis, I like to make sure I can spend as much time as possible with the patients to answer all their questions.”
Autoimmunity, he says, is serious, but “we live in a time with the most cutting-edge and effective medicines that can offer treatment, leading to a symptom-free life. I like to tell parents (and teens) that I don't want an autoimmune diagnosis to affect their future—I still want them to do well in school, have a career and live their lives.”
Dr. Ferguson says his favorite part of his job is getting to know his patients. “In autoimmune disease, we frequently need to treat patients for years and this is a great opportunity for both of us to grow with each other,” he says. “Every patient has something to teach us. There will always be a physical exam finding, a lab abnormality, something to clue us in on the diagnosis.”
Dr. Ferguson is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine.