Dr. Bolster emphasizes the curriculum is designed to be an outline that covers important topics in adult and pediatric rheumatology needed to establish a solid knowledge base for NPs and PAs. The online modules include case studies, resource materials and a rheumatology toolbox.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2018
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The outline design makes it a flexible training curriculum that can be adapted to the specific needs of any given rheumatology practice. The curriculum is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all training tool. Mr. Smith refers to it as a model. “Similar standardized curricula can be applied broadly, but also be flexible [to fit] the specific needs of a practice,” he says.
No certification accompanies the curriculum, and NPs and PAs work through the curriculum at their own pace. “The curriculum is not a supervised activity; it is meant to provide a resource for physicians to integrate an NP or PA into their practice,” says Dr. Bolster.
Dr. Bolster says the task force suggests an evaluation period after six months by a supervising physician to provide performance feedback to the NP or PA and obtain input from the NP or PA on areas of needed focus. The curriculum outline can be used as a guide for continued study.
As an NP who started to practice in rheumatology 15 years ago, Christine Stamatos, DNP, director, Fibromyalgia Wellness Center, Northwell Health, Division of Rheumatology, Great Neck, N.Y., says the RCO provides a needed focused training for NPs and PAs that previously was lacking.
“Rheumatology is a complex specialty and requires knowledge that is not obtained in any graduate program,” she says. “This curriculum forms a road map to guide the learning process. It provides both the NP and the MD mentor a specific and comprehensive plan to follow in the first year of practice.”
Ms. Stamatos, who is also a member of the task force and co-author of the study, says the greatest challenge going forward is to get information about the RCO out to NPs and PAs, as well as to practicing rheumatologists. “We need to educate physicians about the program and help them understand that with proper training [available], they will be much more likely to train and retain an NP or PA,” she says.
She stresses the importance of education on the rheumatology specialty for NP and PA students to gain their interest in pursuing a career in rheumatology. “I can’t imagine anyone new to rheumatology not interested in using a curriculum to guide their learning and training,” she says.