Cultivating a New Generation of Rheumatologists

Over the past few decades, the Arthritis Foundation and the arthritis community have made enormous strides in helping patients. Today, however, there aren’t enough rheumatologists available to diagnose, treat and dispense drugs to the people who need them. And unless something is done, the problem will only get worse.

The Arthritis Foundation’s fellowship initiative is part of the Foundation’s strategy to ensure access to medical care for more than 54 million Americans living with doctor diagnosed arthritis.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) cautions about the insufficient number of rheumatologists (both adult and pediatric) available to serve the growing patient population. This growing shortage is expected to increase, creating more barriers to care; subsequently, worsening disease outcomes, negatively impacting quality of life, decreasing productivity and increasing mortality rates. Without immediate efforts, we will have 43 percent fewer adult rheumatologists and 50 percent fewer pediatric rheumatologists than are needed to meet patient needs.

Be Part of It: Cultivating New Rheumatologists

See how we're aiming to address the growing shortage of arthritis specialists, especially in underserved parts of the country.

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to prevent or minimize the uncontrolled inflammation that can lead to joint damage and even disability. Patients must have access to rheumatologists within recommended timeframes, yet geography affects how quickly a patient can be seen. Outside of major metropolitan areas and certain regions, the number available thins, sometimes to zero. This shortage also adds to the costs incurred by patients - not only do they pay for direct health care costs, they also pay for travel and time away from school and work.

To close this gap, we are leading the way by expanding the number of fellowship opportunities for rheumatologists, focusing on communities with the greatest need. Our patient-centered approach allows doctors to get to know their community and what their patients really need, including Foundation resources that can help them.

A Few Testimonials from Local Foundation Leaders:

  • “The University of Washington (UW) has long been a partner of the Arthritis Foundation in the fight to both control and cure this debilitating disease. We are so proud to continue to fund a rheumatology fellowship right here in Seattle at the UW. Healthcare access is and must continue to be a top priority in the 5-state region, and this investment is confirmation that we will continue to fight for that.” Kelsey Woods, Seattle Executive Director.
  • “This grant will serve the needs and population of not only Birmingham, but the entire state of Alabama. The University of Alabama at Birmingham treats thousands of arthritis patients annually. Being able to partner with the Arthritis Foundation, the largest national voluntary health agency that addresses all forms of arthritis, is critical for patient education, access, and care beyond the clinic.” Kelly Maliska, Alabama Executive Director.
  • “We are very grateful that Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Hospital, Indianapolis has received a fellowship grant. They have an incredible pediatric program that provides training on transitioning pediatric patients to adult care. Transitioning pediatric patients to adult care is a huge need for teens and young adults with rheumatic diseases. We look forward to seeing the continued great work at Riley Hospital.” Ashley Craig, Indiana Executive Director.

Learn more about the 2018 awardees.

Stay tuned for the next Request For Applications, anticipated to be opened October 2018 with application deadline December 31, 2018. If you would like to be added to the email notification list, please email AFscience@arthritis.org.