Analysis of the workforce and workplace for rheumatology and the research activities of rheumatologists early in their careers.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the workforce and workplace in rheumatology, and the research work of early-career rheumatologists. METHODS: Early-career rheumatologists were defined as practicing physicians who joined the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1991-2005, were 49 years of age or younger when they joined, and reside in North America. This cohort participated in a Web-based survey distributed by the ACR. A total of 247 surveys (21.2% response) were used for this analysis. Survey questions were designed to obtain core insights about the workforce, workplace, research activities, funding, and the demographic profile of respondents. RESULTS: Respondents from all workplaces-clinical, academic, federal, and industry-engaged in clinical care, teaching, administration, and research. The time devoted to these tasks was employer dependent, and workplaces shaped the scale and scope of research. Patient-oriented research was predominant across all workplaces. Disease, population, and translational research were intermediate, and few respondents pursued basic or prevention-oriented research in any type of workplace. Rheumatologists obtained extramural funds (21.3%) and intramural funds (78.7%) to pay portions of their salaries for time spent on research. Receiving a National Institutes of Health K08/K23 award was associated with receipt of a federal research project grant (P < 0.001). Respondents associated investigative work with reduced earnings, a perception validated by an estimated drop in pre-tax annual earnings of 2.3% for each half-day/week dedicated to research (P < 0.01). CONCLUSION: The results of this study justify interventions for closing gaps embedded in investigational rheumatology. These include improved funding for clinical research, increasing the number of K08/K23 awards, and recruiting rheumatologists from underrepresented demographic groups.
Desjardins, C; St Clair, EW; Ehrenberg, RG
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