Rheumatology is a complex specialty. Unfortunately, existing training programs for nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and registered nurses (RNs) offer minimal rheumatology-related content. As a result, most new employees in your practice will have little to no previous experience regarding this specialty. All members of your staff require a basic understanding of the field of rheumatology to effectively meet the needs of this complex patient population. Access to rheumatic treatments requires careful orchestration of multiple systems (such as insurance companies), the patient’s desires and resources, treatment options (whether approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or not), the physical availability of treatments (ie, whether patients will be required to go to an infusion center or can do self-injection), and creative problem-solving. Finding educational resources for all levels of personnel can be challenging. Funding for such training is another challenge. This is where the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ARP): The Interprofessional Division of the American College of Rheumatology (formerly known as ARHP) can help.
Fundamentals in Rheumatology and Advanced Rheumatology Courses
Two informative online courses, Fundamentals of Rheumatology Course (FRC) and Advanced Rheumatology Course (ARC), can prepare staff for work in your rheumatology practice or academic setting. These dynamic tools are interactive, self-paced, and accessible as individual modules or a comprehensive program. The FRC is designed for office staff at any level; subjects covered include the insurance preauthorization process, nursing management of infusion patients, consultations with other members of the interprofessional team, medications, and assessment of adult and pediatric patients with rheumatic diseases. The ARC consists of 19 modules across all aspects of rheumatology and is designed specifically for the NP/PA, although many RN-level providers, as well as pharmacists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, will also find the material helpful.
The ACR/ARP’s partner, the Rheumatology Research Foundation, offers several educational training grants that can cover the full cost of the FRC and ARC programs. In addition, a new grant opportunity, the Mentored Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant (NP/PA) Award for Workforce Expansion, is now available. Rheumatologists can apply for this $25,000 grant in preparation for onboarding a new NP/PA. Applications are due March 1, 2019, with funding beginning in July 2019. Funds cover the expense of providing didactic and clinical training in your office, based on the formal curriculum outlined and developed by the ACR/ARP in 2017. Do not miss out on the Foundation’s other grant opportunities that support clinical and research mentorships. Grant details can be found by visiting www.rheumresearch.org/education-and-training-awards.
Additional Learning Opportunities
Is time a concern for your staff? Look to ACR/ARP’s eBytes to provide big education in a short amount of time. These 30-minute online activities define clinical, radiographic, and symptomatic manifestations; discuss epidemiology and pathophysiology/pathoanatomy; and cover the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The content benefits the entire interprofessional team.
Additional resources through the ACR/ARP include live educational seminars from around the country (virtual access to these programs is available through a subscription to the streaming service ACR Beyond). Of particular interest to staff members may be the Certified Rheumatology Coder course. This is a live 2-day course, which is followed by a certification examination. There are also several free webinars covering varying aspects of research in rheumatology, as well as several webinars on recognizing and managing unconscious bias in the workplace.
The strength and diversity of this educational portfolio should provide your staff with the knowledge that they are supported, which will empower them to be there for their patients. Comprehensive orientation and training leads to job satisfaction and a commitment to the practice. Visit www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Health-Professional/Health-Professional-Education, and ACR’s Learning Center for all of the College’s educational offerings. We are here for you, so you can be there for your patients.