Ask any rheumatologist why he or she chose to pursue a career in rheumatology and the answers will be as unique as the individual. Dig deeper, though, and you tend to find that at the heart of this choice, rheumatologists are attracted to this field because of the challenging diseases we treat and caring for patients who have them.
From that initial attraction, rheumatologists can choose to pursue a career in any number of settings, with the majority choosing private practice (although many in other settings still continue to see patients). At the end of the day, though, we are all rheumatologists trying to improve the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases. To that end, all practicing rheumatologists—regardless of workplace setting—should care about practice advocacy efforts for rheumatologists.
Practice Advocacy Defined
I’m often asked what, exactly, practice advocacy is. Practice advocacy is an umbrella term for organized activism related to issues that affect a physician’s practice. This can include representing the specialty for coding valuation, lobbying Congress for favorable legislation, working with CMS to address reimbursement issues, advocating policy change with an insurance company, assisting members with coding compliance issues, and developing and delivering quality education on practice management issues—just to name a few examples.
The ACR does all this and more for all practicing rheumatologists in the United States. Through volunteer groups such as the Committees on Rheumatologic Care and Government Affairs and the Regional Advisory Council, as well as through advocacy and professional coding staff, we assiduously work on issues that directly affect your professional practice life.