The ACR is a single entity made stronger by the sum of its member constituents—physicians and allied health professionals—and our shared commitment to improving care for patients living with rheumatic and autoimmune diseases. As the rheumatology practice setting becomes more varied, the multidisciplinary team has become more important. The fact that the ACR membership comprises rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals from nearly two dozen disciplines has inspired the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) president, Pamela Degotardi, PhD, and I to co-write this column to demonstrate the importance of collaboration.
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Explore This IssueSeptember 2009
Multidisciplinary care is a growing and significant trend in medicine that has also become increasingly more important to the ACR. There is greater recognition that healthcare can be delivered best by a team of people with varied expertise and approaches. Likewise, our organizational collective can also be developed to its full potential by employing an interdisciplinary approach. Over the past year the staff and volunteer leadership have made a concerted effort to integrate the activities of the ACR and the ARHP to capitalize on our combined strengths and benefit from the perspectives each group represents. Tangible benefits have been realized in almost every departmental area as a result of these joint efforts, which emphasize the ACR’s interdisciplinary outlook.
If our most recent endeavors are an indication, a multidisciplinary organization representing all rheumatology healthcare professionals will even more successfully serve us all.
Success Through Collaboration
The ACR and the ARHP have joined forces in our advocacy activities on Capitol Hill with great success. Through this collaboration we have strengthened our ability to lobby and advocate for our individual and collective interests. Our efforts in lobbying have also been helped by the inclusion of patients in our Hill visits, made possible by the recruitment efforts of both rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. Following an interdisciplinary model, our activism is effective and influential because we represent varied groups with differing views and our advocates include patients, healthcare professionals, and physicians.
The current iteration of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), which spearheads our activity on Capitol Hill, encompasses the former ACR and ARHP committees of the same name. The combined committee is stronger than its predecessors because the group is now one unit with a single voice. GAC is also notable in its level of ARHP representation, which is the largest of any ACR/ARHP volunteer committee. Similarly, the former ACR and ARHP Audio Visual Aids Subcommittees are now joined under a single committee banner, resulting in a combined slide competition and a more comprehensive slide collection that will be available through the Rheumatology Image Bank (coming in October).