The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The ACR designates this enduring online activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Participants may claim hours to receive a Certificate of Participation for an activity designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.
With the current and expected workforce shortages, it is essential to provide pertinent and up to date education for physicians, health professionals, medical and health professional students and other clinicians regarding rheumatic diseases so that diagnosis and treatment occur early for best patient outcomes 1. Because of the complexity of rheumatic conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, there is a need to provide education that is applicable to non-rheumatology providers as well as those who are new to rheumatology 2.
The ACR 2015 Workforce Study Report 3 identifies a critical shortage of rheumatologists and is expected to worsen as the population ages and number of persons with a rheumatic disease increases. Since most programs don’t address rheumatology training, our focus was to expand knowledge, skill sets and increase access to care for patients through assessing, managing and evaluating those with rheumatic diseases and understanding the importance of the health care team role which includes the rheumatologist. The Fundamentals of Rheumatology Course is designed to expand clinician’s knowledge and practical skills as providers in practice, academic training setting and primary care and to improve patient care through assessing, managing and evaluating those with rheumatic diseases.
Because of the shortage of rheumatologists, new patients must wait far too long before they are seen by the rheumatologist to whom they have been referred by their primary care physician. For years, rheumatologists have provided one-on-one education for their office registered nurse. The office nurse learns more about the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases and they have become experts in their role. Support for the expanded education and role of nurses is strongly supported in The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health report commissioned by the Institute of Medicine 4. The Fundamentals of Rheumatology course will offer on demand 24/7 access to education formally offered by the rheumatologist in the office setting to individuals. This education format will educate more clinicians without having to take time away from clinic for live education conferences. As more clinicians employ physician extenders to increase their ability to meet the imbalance of more patients/fewer rheumatologists, the need for specialized education is apparent. The Fundamentals of Rheumatology series of activities provides a good foundation for beginning practitioners in the rheumatology clinic.
- Deal CL, Hooker R, Harrington T, Birnbaum N, Hogan P, Bouchery E, et al. The United States rheumatology workforce: supply and demand, 2005–2025. Arthritis Rheum 2007; 56:722–9.
- Hooker RS. The extension of rheumatology services with physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 2008; 22:523–33.
- 2015 Workforce Study of Rheumatologist Specialists in the United States Report (pgs. 4-5, 30). Accessed 5 Jan 2017.
- Institute of Medicine The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health. Washington DC, National Academies Press.