ACR Tackles the Rheumatology Workforce Shortage With a Novel Curriculum


The American College of Rheumatology developed a formal curriculum for NPs and PAs to help swell the ranks of clinicians who provide rheumatologic care.


The current shortage of clinicians who specialize in rheumatology is not expected to go away any time soon. In fact, because of an aging population and the increasing prevalence of rheumatologic disorders, the shortage is expected to worsen.

According to a recent report from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), there are only about 5000 rheumatologists in the US. The numbers of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) who are full-time providers of rheumatologic care are even lower: 228 and 190, respectively.

To help increase the number of clinicians who care for patients with rheumatic conditions, the ACR has developed a formal curriculum for NPs and PAs. The curriculum is described in Arthritis Care & Research.

The development of a formal NP/PA curriculum outline in rheumatology is novel and can serve as a tool when adding NPs/PAs into clinical rheumatology practice. No other medical specialty has yet created an endorsed, standardized training tool that can aid in the preparation of NPs/PAs in a medical specialty.

“The Rheumatology Curriculum Outline is a practical tool that can be utilized in various adult and pediatric practice settings,” said lead author Benjamin J. Smith, of Florida State University College of Medicine School of Physician Assistant Practice. “We anticipate that it will be used broadly to positively affect rheumatology workforce challenges.”

For more information about the rheumatology workforce shortage, please see Rheumatologists: Not (Nearly) Enough to Go Around.


Effort seeks to increase the number of trained rheumatology nurse practitioners and physician assistants [press release]. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; April 18, 2018.

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