ACR Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ACR?

The American College of Rheumatology is the world’s leading professional organization of rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. The Association of Rheumatology Professionals, or ARP, is the interprofessional division of the ACR. The ACR’s foundation, the Rheumatology Research Foundation, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance research and training to improve the health of people with rheumatic diseases.

The ACR’s roots date back more than 80 years to the American Rheumatism Association (ARA), an organization of leading physicians whose aim was to study and improve the control of rheumatic diseases. After eight decades, the ACR has nearly 8,500 members from around the world, and welcomes 16,000+ attendees to its annual meeting each year.

What does the ACR do?

The ACR actively works to ensure the ongoing vitality of the profession of rheumatology through programs of education, research, advocacy, information and professional development.

Who are the ACR’s members?

The ACR has nearly 8,500 members worldwide. Our members live and work in 86 countries around the world. Our members include rheumatology clinicians, researchers, academics, fellows, fellows in training, residents and students. The ARP’s diverse members include advanced practice nurses, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, epidemiologists, physician assistants, educators, clinicians, researchers, research coordinators, practice managers and office staff working in rheumatology settings.

How does the ACR drive rheumatology education?

The ACR's annual meeting, ACR Convergence, is the world’s premier rheumatology meeting, held each fall. This meeting attracts 16,000+ rheumatology and industry professionals from more than 100 countries, presents hundreds of scientific abstracts and lectures, and offers forums for education, networking, discussion and advocacy in rheumatology. Throughout the year, the ACR holds a series of educational meetings where rheumatologists and fellows gather to present and discuss research, and advance their knowledge and skills. We also provide convenient, affordable web-based programs and audio conferences to enable rheumatology professionals to learn in their own hometowns.

How does the ACR support research?

The ACR has a strong research agenda, including the need for new technology, infrastructure and increased funding for rheumatology research. We promote basic, translational, clinical, and health services research aimed at improving the health of patients with rheumatic diseases all over the world. Our annual meeting is the most important gathering of rheumatology researchers in the world, and provides a forum for them to share their findings and learn from colleagues. The Rheumatology Research Foundation is a vital source for research and training. Since 1985, the Foundation has awarded more than $170 million through 3,400+ grants and awards to medical and graduate students, residents, fellows, physicians and health professionals engaged in rheumatology research and training programs.

How does the ACR help its members stay up to date on research, issues and news?

Our website presents up-to-date news affecting rheumatology today, as well as easy-to-access diagnostic criteria, treatment guidelines and printable patient information handouts. The ACR and ARP publish two of the world’s leading, peer-reviewed rheumatology medical journals, Arthritis & Rheumatology and Arthritis Care & Research. The ACR sponsors committees of medical professionals to research, vet and publish diagnostic criteria, and disease management and treatment guidelines for a variety of rheumatic diseases. Our clinical registries gather data from thousands of rheumatology patients, information used by researchers and clinicians to better understand, treat, and one day, cure hundreds of rheumatic diseases. The ACR publishes a monthly magazine, The Rheumatologist, covering new research findings, practice management and patient care issues, case studies and news analysis. Our full-time communications staff distributes the latest news updates on research, medications, legislative changes and more, and works with media professionals worldwide to promote and cover what’s happening in rheumatology today.

How does the ACR support advocacy and legislative change to benefit members and patients?

The ACR leads important advocacy efforts so rheumatology will thrive now and in the future. We support key legislation that protects rheumatology practices in a shifting regulatory and reimbursement landscape at both state and federal levels. Our volunteer advocates include physicians and other rheumatology professionals from across the country. Our lobbyists and professional staff work tirelessly to promote or protect important legislation on behalf of our members and people living with rheumatic diseases. The ACR often works with state rheumatology associations to provide support at the local level.

How does the ACR reach beyond rheumatology to other areas of healthcare?

As the world’s premier rheumatology association, the ACR leads outreach efforts on important issues facing the medical profession and the general public, including collaborative partnerships with other medical organizations to drive positive change in healthcare and improve the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases. We work with government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, with international organizations like the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and with other specialty associations like the Arthritis Foundation and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, among many others.

Why should I join the ACR or ARP?

Membership has many privileges. The ACR offers its members special rates on professional education, vital practice management support and ongoing legislative advocacy. It supports cutting-edge rheumatology research, maintenance of certification, coding support, training courses, fellows-in-training programs, and CareerConnection, a network where job seekers and recruiters interact. ACR and ARP members enjoy discounts, career networking opportunities, cutting-edge publications and breaking news alerts, access to our awards and grants programs, staff support for advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels, and access to our groundbreaking rheumatology clinical registries.

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