The 2009 survey showed no significant change in salary range; for private practice and academicians, 88% reported an annual income of $150,000–$250, 000. In the 2003 survey, rheumatologists between the ages of 50 and 59 reported that they would greatly reduce direct patient care hours in the next 15 years. In the 2009 survey, this group reported that they now plan to to substantially reduce their direct patient care hours by the time they reach 60–65 years of age.
There was a significant change in the use of advance nurse practitioners (NPs) and/or physician assistants (PAs). Respondents indicated in 2003 that they used NPs and PAs sparingly. In 2009, 24% planned to hire additional NPs and PAs in the next five years, while 73% plan to hire at least one NP or PA.
The 2003 study reported that 48% of rheumatologists were requiring their patients to provide physician referrals; the 2009 survey found that this had increased to 55%.
It is especially important in this era of increased numbers of uninsured or underinsured patients and an aging population that we ensure our nation has the ability to respond to the increasing need for rheumatologic care. While many Americans take for granted the quality and availability of internal medical care in their community, many others are faced with substandard conditions or lack access to rheumatology practices and personnel.
The Economic Benchmark Survey functions as a tool for ACR and its partner organizations to identify the characteristics and trends of rheumatologists and to advocate for legislative, regulatory, and policy changes at the federal, state, and local levels. The results of the 2009 survey will be used to attract the attention of a wide variety of audiences to evoke action and advocacy to reverse the shortage of rheumatologists in the U.S. Moving forward, the ACR plans to add the Economic Benchmark Survey to its website, so that ACR and ARHP members can update their information annually.
Visit the ACR website at www.rheumatology.org/practice under Office Support to view the entire 2009 Economic Benchmark Survey report. For specific questions about the 2009 survey, contact Antanya Chung in the ACR’s practice management department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 633-3777.