The Rheumatology Research Foundation and the ACR are committed to advancing the future of rheumatology to support patients living with rheumatic diseases. These organizations are focused on addressing one of the most critical issues facing patients and rheumatology today—the growing shortage of rheumatology professionals.
The ACR’s 2015 Workforce Study revealed the dire need for support and expansion of training in rheumatology. The study estimated that by 2025, a shortage of 3,845 rheumatologists will exist in the U.S. This is a sharp increase from the projected shortage of 2,576 rheumatologists that was estimated in the 2005 ACR Workforce Study. With more people being diagnosed with rheumatic diseases and many rheumatologists approaching retirement, it’s crucial that we find ways to encourage students and residents to choose rheumatology as their specialty.
The Foundation and the ACR are working to secure the future of rheumatology by recruiting and training the next generation of rheumatology professionals, particularly in geographic areas and demographics that face the greatest need. By funding education and training, developing opportunities for mentorship and increasing the number of rheumatology fellowships nationwide, the Foundation and ACR are committed to making sure qualified rheumatology experts will be available to care for the estimated 67 million adults who will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2030.
Recruiting & Training the Next Generation
For fiscal year 2018, the Foundation has committed more than $10 million to rheumatology research and training. About half of those awards will support efforts to recruit and train tomorrow’s rheumatology professionals. Awards are available for potential rheumatology professionals in all career stages, from students just learning about rheumatology to residents with a hint of interest in the field to experienced health professionals wanting to better serve their patients who have rheumatic diseases.
Education and training awards and fellowship training awards offer an opportunity to attend and present abstracts at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. Preceptorships provide a one-on-one real-world learning experience with an established mentor in the field. To keep the brightest minds engaged in rheumatology, funding is also available for early, mid-career and experienced investigators to pursue research that advances discoveries in the field.
Filling Gaps in Care
Some regions are especially affected by the shortage of rheumatology professionals, meaning that patients in those areas must drive hours or wait months to see a rheumatologist. In an effort to increase access to care for all patients, some Foundation awards are specifically dedicated to recruiting more rheumatology professionals in these areas. ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting scholarships are available for students and residents from underserved states, and the new Fellowship Training Award for Workforce Expansion provides fellowships for training programs that have been unable to fill all of their slots due to funding constraints.