Address Shortage of Pediatric Rheumatologists
There are nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. who have juvenile arthritis, yet fewer than 350 board-certified and practicing pediatric rheumatologists. As a result of this severe shortage of pediatric rheumatologists, only 25 percent of children with arthritis are getting the care and treatment they need. In fact, 8 states do not have a single board-certified and practicing pediatric rheumatologist, and 5 states have only one. Further, the workforce is aging as the average pediatric rheumatologist is more than 50-years-old. Even when a child with arthritis is able to see a pediatric rheumatologist, oftentimes the cost of travel and lost time from work and school make accessing treatment prohibitive. These barriers to care result in a sobering statistic - a child with arthritis is required to travel an average of 57 miles to be seen by a pediatric rheumatologist as compared to an average of 25 miles for other pediatric subspecialties.
Of the 75 percent of children with arthritis who are not being treated by a pediatric rheumatologist, many are treated by a pediatrician or adult rheumatologist who is not adequately trained to care for children with arthritis or deal with pediatric issues – whether the stunted bone growth that can result from arthritis and its treatment, or the special requirements of providing treatment to an adolescent. Others simply don’t get treatment at all.