The American College of Rheumatology Workforce Study estimated that about half of practicing rheumatologists will retire within eight years, and that by 2025, there will be a shortage of 2,600 rheumatologists in the U.S.
As the number of lupus patients rise in America, the doctors trained to diagnose and treat lupus is shrinking. Lupus LA recognizes the need for more rheumatologists in our community who specialize in treating lupus patients. The Lupus LA Board of Directors made a strategic decision to address this need and established a fellowship program with local teaching hospitals to better meet the needs of our growing population.
Our first fellow began in July 2013 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. This collaboration supports the training of a clinician/scientist over a two-year period. Part of the fellow’s responsibilities will be training doctors at various free clinics and hospitals in Los Angeles on how to recognize and diagnose lupus and how to treat lupus patients. The fellow will spend about 50% of her time on a lupus research project. This fellowship will come to a close in June 2015.
Our second fellow began at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in July 2015. The three-year fellowship specializes in pediatric rheumatology, with a focus on patient care. Currently, there is a shortage of pediatric and adult rheumatologists, both locally and nationally, and access to a pediatric rheumatologist is a challenge in most states. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that roughly one-fourth of children with rheumatic disease live 80 miles or more from the nearest pediatric rheumatologist. Through our fellowship with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we hope to encourage more doctors to go into the field of pediatric rheumatology.