Building a Robust Academic Pathway for a Diverse Rheumatology Workforce
The multi-institutional 2023 diversity, equity and inclusion awards aim to increase the overall number of rheumatology health professionals.
By Vandana Suresh | Jan. 10, 2024
Physician shortage in the United States is a pressing concern. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, primary and specialty care demand will exceed supply by at least 37,000 physicians by 2034. This shortage is even more acute in rheumatology, where there is one practicing specialist for every 40,000 patients with arthritis.
Continuing its commitment to closing the gap in the rheumatology workforce and reducing health inequities, the Arthritis Foundation is funding two diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) grants totaling almost $850,000. The grants serve to expose medical trainees from groups underrepresented in medicine to rheumatology early in their career and provide longitudinal mentoring experiences within collaborating departments of rheumatology.
Unlike in previous years, this year’s funding is the first part of a two-phase award. The first phase will support building infrastructure, relationships and processes, while the second phase (to be funded at a later date) is intended to deliver a more diversified career pipeline for underrepresented medical professionals in rheumatology.
The 2023 DEI awardees are Candace Feldman, MD, MPH, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and James Jarvis, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.
Dr. Jarvis, a pediatric rheumatologist with extensive experience working with indigenous children with rheumatic disease, will use his DEI award to increase the number of indigenous people in the rheumatology health profession who can provide racially concordant care. In the first phase of the DEI award, his research team will establish and strengthen relationships between regional Native American communities and the University of Washington’s academic rheumatology community. They will also recruit and support these students, early-career physicians and health professionals toward careers in rheumatology care, research and education. In the second phase, his team plans to extend the program’s reach to other medical schools with large indigenous student populations.
In the first phase of her DEI award, Dr. Feldman’s research team will increase the diversity of the rheumatology workforce by establishing the Academy for Workforce Advancement to enrich Rheumatology Diversity (AWARD). The academy will include mentorship and sponsorship, a racial and social justice curriculum and trainee leadership-building activities. In the second phase, her team intends to recruit, retain and advance rheumatologists from historically underrepresented communities through AWARD.
“The Foundation has been committed to conquering arthritis. We have been a long-standing partner with the health care professional community so that the rheumatology workforce shortage can be addressed,” says Steven Taylor, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. “Our DEI awards are a vital step in that direction.”
The Arthritis Foundation’s 2023 DEI grants serve to expose medical trainees from groups underrepresented in medicine to rheumatology early in their career and provide longitudinal mentoring experiences within collaborating departments of rheumatology. Since the DEI Science program started in 2021, the Foundation has awarded 14 DEI grants totaling $1,344,213.
Highlights From the 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Science Summit
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