Strike While the Iron Is Hot

David Borenstein, MD

Last December, I promised that in 2011, the ACR would focus on promoting the needs of the profession, our membership, and especially our patients. I encouraged us to “stay strategic” in taking advantage of opportunities as they appeared in these rapidly changing times. In subsequent columns, I suggested that, to advance rheumatology, we should be proactive in meeting the needs of our profession and our patients.

This month I bring to your attention one of our newer programs.

When given the opportunity to increase education around an important rheumatologic disorder, the ACR came forward to offer its expertise. The Lupus Initiative has been a vivid example of the ACR’s strategic thinking over the past year and its proactive approach to advancing both patient care and the profession of rheumatology.

The Formation of The Lupus Initiative

In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) solicited applications and chose the ACR to lead an educational effort aimed at eliminating ethnic, racial, and gender disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus. The ACR created The Lupus Initiative to further that effort.

The goal of the Initiative is to develop and disseminate innovative lupus curricula and other teaching resources for physicians and health professionals in training and in practice. The staff, led by Lisa Amaker, has developed an infrastructure, researched the viability of resource options, and organized the development and review of a variety of educational materials concerning lupus.

Since its inception, the Initiative has been guided by a national consortium of experts in lupus and health disparities from academia, research, patient services, and the federal government. The consortium is chaired by ACR volunteer Sam Lim, MD, MPH, who is supported in this role by more than 30 ACR members who contribute considerable time, in addition to their expertise, to ensure the success the project.

The ACR finalized the first sets of materials this year. As of this month, they are available for widespread use and distribution.

I am especially pleased to announce that, just last month, The Lupus Initiative received a third year of funding from the HHS Office of Minority Health. Plans for the third year funding will focus on

  • The dissemination, implementation, and evaluation of our curriculum in medical and health professions schools;
  • The creation of a think tank–style summit on the reduction of health disparities; and
  • The development of publications about this unique cooperative effort between public and private institutions, academic centers, research and public health groups, and national nonprofit organizations.

I am especially pleased to announce that, just last month, The Lupus Initiative received a third year of funding from the HHS Office of Minority Health.

Improve Practice at the Site of Patient Care

The Lupus Initiative’s resources for clinical practice and the classroom are designed to assist nonrheumatologists and fellows-in-training in making timely differential diagnoses; encourage appropriate referrals to rheumatologists; and educate about supportive, team-based patient care.

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