I am honored to care for my community and appreciate the autonomy I have from the demands of corporate medicine. This autonomy allows me to be fully present for my patients while embracing my other roles and identities. In June, I proudly completed my first marathon, and I was delighted to have the support of my three children on race day—along with the cheers of my patients the following week of clinic.
The ACR Steps Up
In January 2023, the ACR responded to the need to support independent and small practice providers across the nation. It established the ACR Community Practice Council, and more than 70 practitioners applied for membership.
The Council, led by chair Tien-I Karleen Su, MD, held its inaugural meeting in April during ACR Education Exchange. Its primary goal is to advocate for private practitioners within the ACR, addressing the increasing administrative burdens, regulations and compliance challenges we face. As medicine has become more corporatized, larger hospital systems are continually buying out individual small practices. Private practitioners need to be recognized and supported for their contributions to advancing rheumatology care.
The Council comprises 15 members, with a diverse composition of 50% female and 50% male rheumatologists at various stages of their careers. Each member brings unique challenges and perspectives on achieving work-life balance. We collectively understand that private practice allows us to pursue individualized goals while meeting the needs of our patients and communities.
During our initial meeting, we identified several key issues to address, acknowledging that progress will be gradual. We aim to assist private practices in competing with larger healthcare systems while also addressing physician deficits in underserved areas. We formed three subcommittees to focus on specific areas in our first year:
- Assessing the number of private practice rheumatologists within the ACR;
- Highlighting the experiences of private practitioners to attract more providers exiting fellowship or seeking a career change from corporate and academic medicine; and
- Developing resources on the ACR website to support both newcomers and established practitioners on their private practice journeys.
Many private practitioners have expressed concerns that the ACR does not adequately support them, with resources predominantly directed toward academia. Our goal is to remind private practitioners that we have a place within the ACR and our voices are pivotal to healthcare in America.
Joining a private practice can be overwhelming, but physicians are adept at learning. We aspire to assist the ACR in educating providers not only to be thriving practitioners, but also successful entrepreneurs in an increasingly volatile healthcare landscape. Our long-term vision is to equip providers with the necessary tools to do both in all geographic regions, ensuring the continued availability of quality rheumatology care for our patients.