Supplement to Formal Education
Joey McCracken, PA-C, a physician assistant with Shanahan Rheumatology and Immunotherapy, Durham, N.C., found The Training Rheum very helpful.
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“Because of COVID-19, I wasn’t able to do an elective rheumatology rotation during my time in school,” he says. “When I got a job with a rheumatology practice, I had limited hands-on experience in rheumatology. The Training Rheum was a good fit for me because I was able to gain exposure to the specialty that I couldn’t get during my training.”
Hands-on experience is especially important in rheumatology, in which patients can have very complicated presentations.
“My time in The Training Rheum helped solidify my clinical reasoning when faced with a cluster of disease features,” says Mr. McCracken. “It helped me approach these clusters and disease features more confidently, aided in my history taking and my diagnostic skills. I definitely was steered in the right direction, [discovering] areas I needed to work on.”
Another important plus for participants: increased opportunities for networking. “When you are new, you don’t really know what the ACR is and what [the organization] can offer you,” says Mr. McCracken. “The Training Rheum introduced me to the available resources and how to access them. It [serves as] an introduction to the College, [and offers] ways to get involved and resources I can use.”
The Training Rheum is part of a package of programs from the ACR’s interprofessional division to help practices onboard NPs and PAs and support them as they enter practice.
An important aspect is a $25,000 Mentored Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant Award for Workforce Expansion from the Rheumatology Research Foundation that can be used by a practice to offset time and educational expenses incurred when bringing new people into the practice. These grants are offered twice a year, with applications due Dec. 1 and March 1. New hires must have been with the practice for less than 18 months to qualify.
To build on the basic education provided by The Training Rheum, the ARP also offers an online advanced rheumatology course. This independent study program allows the student to proceed at their own pace.
“The concept for The Training Rheum is that it gives you the very basics,” says Dr. Stamatos. “This should be supplemented by other course offerings that go into much greater detail.”
Kurt Ullman is a freelance writer based in Indiana.