It is hoped the RCO will fill a gap that currently exists in the training of NPs and PAs who wish to practice rheumatology, as well as encourage the expansion of rheumatology providers. The sidebar, right, lists a number of advantages to implementing the RCO.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2018
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Citing a workforce study published in April that showed huge gaps between projected supply and demand for rheumatologists, Marcy B. Bolster, MD, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, says current projections for the next decade again predict a tremendous gap between the supply of rheumatology providers and demand for rheumatology care.
These data are not new. Data going back to 2007 predicted a shortage of rheumatology providers.2 These data prompted the ACR in 2007 to include expanding the rheumatology workforce in its strategic approach, a plan that aimed to increase the number of physicians training to become rheumatologists and laid the foundation on which to expand practices and improve access to care by adding NPs and PAs.
More than 10 years later, the RCO builds on this foundation. “What we hope, with this curriculum, is that it will facilitate the rheumatologist to be able to more quickly and comprehensively integrate an NP or PA into their practice,” says Dr. Bolster, a member of the task force and the second co-lead author of the study.
Closer Look at the RCO
In developing the RCO, the task force undertook a rigorous process to identify the needs for rheumatology training for NPs and PAs by obtaining input from published data and survey responses, and gathering feedback from stakeholders.
Through this process the task force collected data showing the important role played by NPs and PAs in a rheumatology practice, including managing a number of rheumatic diseases, as well as prescribing an array of drugs. Survey data from NPs and PAs highlighted what they deemed most important in terms of training. At the top of the list was a colleague mentor physician, NP or PA, followed by, in order, the ACR/ARHP, a textbook and online resources.
The content of the RCO is built around core competencies for NPs and PAs that parallel the core competencies established for physicians by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Core Competencies.1 These include competencies in patient care, medical knowledge, systems-based practice, practice-based learning and improvement, professionalism, and interpersonal/communication skills.