I am delighted to use the occasion of this inaugural REF president’s column to share a vision of the future and describe the exciting developments that will allow us to meet the challenges ahead. Although most of you know that the ACR is associated with a foundation, I find that many of our members wonder what the REF does that is different from the mission and activities of the ACR and the ARHP. In the simplest terms, the ACR and the ARHP are engaged in improving the quality of our professional lives as rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals, while the core mission of the REF is to ensure the future of our specialty.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueAugust 2008
Also By This Author
Why Support the REF and Its Core Mission?
One could answer that by posing another question: Who will treat our patients with rheumatic diseases in 2025? The ACR rheumatology workforce study of 2006 estimates that the supply of rheumatologists will increase by 1.2% based on current trends, while the number of patients with rheumatic diseases will increase by 46%. To meet the coming challenges, it is essential that we attract the best and brightest young physicians to rheumatology and support the development of health professionals to enhance our capabilities to deliver care. As we all know, it is difficult to recruit young people—of the caliber we want—and to train them to join our practices, take care of our patients when we retire, and teach the next generation how to practice the art and science of rheumatology.
In almost all cases, individuals come into rheumatology as a result of interactions with charismatic teachers who energize trainees around the truly fascinating diseases that form the core of our specialty. We must also find a way to encourage those who wish to pursue a career in academia to engage in teaching and basic, translational, and clinical research to make that commitment. In the present environment, it is imperative that young educators and researchers can see a way to have a successful career in rheumatology. They must be comfortable that there is a reasonable chance to obtain funding, starting early in their careers and continuing until they become senior educators and basic or clinical scientists. I suspect that most of us can name at least one individual that strongly influenced our career choice, be it clinical or research, and it is likely that a valued mentor was affiliated with an academic rheumatology unit. It is essential that these units stay strong and vibrant.