Last month’s column promised you a solution to rheumatology’s dual problem of a shrinking workforce and rapidly expanding patient population. Without further ado, here is the solution for rheumatology’s crisis that my colleagues and I devised at the EULAR congress in Barcelona: The members of the ACR, through the Research and Education Foundation, should cooperate with stakeholders – patients, patient organizations, foundations, industry, civic groups, medical schools, hospitals, and government – to raise money so that every academic rheumatology division in the country has an endowment to support its mission.
What is the mission and why is it important? At its core, this mission is to train the next generation of rheumatologists to provide outstanding care to patients and to continue the momentum in treatment advances that our specialty currently enjoys.
This initiative differs fundamentally from other funding mechanisms that focus on raising money for research. Research funding is often a proxy for academic activities and serves as a channel for support of rheumatology divisions. In this model, efforts to bolster the academic units are predicated on grant programs that target rheumatic disease. While grant programs have enormous importance, they do not address the need for the infrastructure for training programs or the presence of clinician-educators to lead, mentor, and inspire trainees. Alas, research programs can involve cost shifting, with funds designated for clinical or laboratory investigation subsidizing the time for teaching.| | | Next → | Single Page