Cultivating a New Generation of Rheumatologists 

A shortage of rheumatologists makes it hard for people with arthritis to get needed care. The Arthritis Foundation is committed to increasing the number of specialists, and supporting the training of a diverse generation of rheumatologists through our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Our ultimate goal is to improve health outcomes for adult and pediatric patients living with arthritis.  

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 the nearly 60 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 increasing 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% fewer adult rheumatologists and 50% 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 are 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 specific 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 most significant shortages. 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. 

While diagnostics and therapeutics have improved for many people living with rheumatic disease in the US, racial/ethnic as well as socioeconomic status disparities continue to negatively impact patient outcomes. In 2021, the Foundation launched a DEI-focused grant program to address disparities in patient care and outcomes of rheumatic diseases, and attract underrepresented minority medical students and residents to rheumatology.

Please visit this page for active Request for Proposals (RFPs):

DEI Awards

Award Year: 2021

  1. Research: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  2. Research: University of California, San Francisco
  3. Research: University of California, Los Angeles
  4. Research: Indiana University
  5. Curriculum Development: Duke University
  6. Curriculum Development: Indiana University

Fellowship Awards

Award Year: 2022

  1. Combined Adult-Pediatrics – Duke University
  2. Adult – University of California, San Francisco (Renewal)
  3. PEDS – Baylor College of Medicine
  4. PEDS – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Renewal)

Award Year: 2021

  1. PEDS – Hackensack University Medical Center
  2. Adult – University of Colorado, Denver
  3. PEDS – University of Alabama at Birmingham
  4. Combined Adult-Pediatrics – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 

Award Year: 2020

  1. PEDS – Children’s Hospital Colorado (University of Colorado, Denver)
  2. PEDS – Duke University
  3. PEDS – University of Florida
  4. PEDS – Seattle Children’s Hospital (University of Washington)
  5. PEDS – University of California, San Francisco

Award Year: 2019

  1. Adult – University of Arizona
  2. PEDS – University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  3. Adult – State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
  4. PEDS – Vanderbilt Children's Hospital/Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Award Year: 2018

  1. PEDS – Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health 
  2. Adult – University of Washington   
  3. PEDS – University of California, Los Angeles
  4. Adult – The University of Alabama at Birmingham
  5. Adult – University of California, San Francisco

Legacy Awards

  1. PEDS – Stanford University
  2. PEDS – University of California, San Francisco

“I sought a career that would combine my desire to create long-lasting patient relationships, manage complex chronic disease, and use my clinical and diagnostic skills to serve a unique patient population in need. Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation’s Charles F. and Marilyn Meier Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship fund award, I found all of this and more through pediatric rheumatology and am thrilled to be at the beginning of my clinical and research training in this rich field.” -- Dr. William D. Soulsby III, UCSF 2019-2020 fellow


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