Workforce training should be at the forefront of every rheumatologist’s mind. The release of the 2006 Rheumatology Workforce Study, commissioned by the ACR, confirms that the current shortage of rheumatologists will continue to increase, affecting current and future patient care.
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Explore This IssueOctober 2007
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And while the number of first-year adult rheumatology positions and the number of fellows completing rheumatology training programs have been increasing over the last several years, there is still a tremendous gap to fill.
Responding to this need, the REF board has expanded its REF/Amgen/Wyeth Rheumatology Fellowship Training Award to fund 30 fellows in fiscal year 2008 – an increase of 50%.
Since its inception in 2002, the award’s effects have been far reaching. The REF asked past recipients what this award has done for their programs. Their responses not only answer the question, but demonstrate the need for such awards.
Barbara S. Adams, MD, clinical professor and director of pediatric rheumatology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has been struggling to fund her program since her department limited fellowship funding in 2003. Dr. Adams was forced to look for outside funding to keep her program alive. She applied for, and received, awards in 2004 and 2006 and says, “The two REF/Amgen/Wyeth Rheumatology Fellowship Training Awards we received permitted us to admit two excellent fellows for whom we would not otherwise have had funding.”
Helen Emery, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and section chief of pediatric rheumatology at the Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, consistently applies for the award. “Our program has been honored in the past to receive the REF/Amgen/Wyeth Rheumatology Fellowship Training Award, which has allowed us to consistently attract outstanding applicants,” she says. “The award has allowed us to have one fellow each year instead of every other year.”
Samina Hayat, MD, is the program director of the rheumatology fellowship training program at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Although her program is funded by several sources, including the hospital, the funding is insufficient to support all four fellows currently in the two-year program. To ward off the potential salary deficit, Dr. Hayat applied for, and received, the REF/Amgen/Wyeth Rheumatology Fellowship Training Award. “The award has allowed us to fund a clinical fellow for one year – independent of other sources – and has allowed us to maintain our current training program,” she explains.
The REF’s mission is to provide the best care possible to those living with rheumatic diseases. To achieve this mission, the REF offers an extensive awards and grants program aimed at ensuring a qualified, well-trained rheumatology workforce. Applications for the next round of awards will be available in May 2008. For more information about the program and award recipients, visit www.rheumatology.org/REF.