As with any multifaceted group, there are benefits and challenges. One challenge for the ARHP is having a minority voice in ACR. It can be difficult for health professionals to be heard, have their needs recognized as important, and obtain the majority vote in favor of a minority position.
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Explore This IssueJanuary 2007
On most days, though, physicians and health professionals work together to provide patients with the best care, and the greatest continuity of care. One thing ARHP brings to ACR is diversity of expertise. Members include RNs, clinical trial nurses, doctorally prepared nurses, advanced practice nurses, OTs, PTs, psychologists, social workers, epidemiologists, and scientists—at all different levels of training and experience.
As an epidemiologist who is most comfortable looking at risk factors and disease patterns, I take great delight in speaking with my ACR/ARHP colleagues about scleroderma or pediatric physical therapy for juvenile RA or the possibility of foot deformities with certain diseases. Having access to varied expertise leads to better research and patient care, as well as encouraging collaborations for comprehensive studies.
Integrating multiple disciplines dissipates turf battles, as everyone works collectively toward the common goal of maximizing the wellbeing of patients with rheumatic diseases. Interprofessional collaborations have improved the understanding of rheumatic diseases and patient care, achievements demonstrated most notably by the advances presented at each annual scientific meeting.
By drawing on so many diverse and talented professionals, the ACR can speak knowledgeably from a provider team perspective on the best ways for patients to access care and for providers to integrate the latest innovations in rheumatology care into their practices. Also, the organization can help basic bench scientists effectively communicate their work to clinical investigators who may continue this work in patient populations, leading to medical interventions that benefit patients.
ARHP is fully integrated into ACR, with ARHP members on ACR committees and physician ACR members on the health professional committees, encouraging collaboration and integrated educational efforts. ARHP has a seat at the table for generating policies and setting the future agenda for ACR. Benefits of this partnership include the combined clinical symposia and a combined abstracts session at each annual scientific meeting. The collaboration of physician, researcher, and health professional at these focused sessions enriches the educational experience and expands questions and debates beyond each individual’s usual way of thinking. The end result is greater than the sum of the parts and fosters further growth.
Growth of a Community
By almost any metric, ACR and ARHP have enjoyed tremendous growth in both clinical and research members, especially over the past few years. The ACR has an increasing number of international members representing more than 20 countries. The annual scientific meeting continues to have outstanding sessions and workshops, record-high attendance, and highly scored abstracts submissions. Each year, the most current research available is presented at our rheumatology meeting.