Measuring and Mapping the Rheumatology Workforce in Canada

The CRA Human Resources Committee in partnership with the research team launched the first National Workforce Survey in 2015.  Thank you to all of the Rheumatologists for who contributed to Stand Up and Be Counted! (SUBC).  We received an overwhelming response to the survey with 355 rheumatologists standing up to be counted. The SUBC study has been presented nationally and internationally and references to abstracts and manuscripts can be found as follows.

The SUBC study describes a workforce that is underpowered and under-resourced to meet the current or future demand for rheumatologist care.  Importantly, it provides new and detailed information regarding how rheumatologists and AHPs could be trained, retained, and distributed to better serve Canadians in the future

Please stay tuned!  The SUBC study is scheduled to be repeated in 2020 – details will follow in future CRAJ issues.

 The results of the SUBC study are presented in:

Barber CE, Jewett L, Badley EM, Lacaille D, Cividino A, Ahluwalia V, Averns H, Baillie C, Ellsworth J, Pope J, Levy D, Charnock C, McGowan C, Thorne JC, Barnabe C, Zummer M, Lundon K, McDougall RS, Thomson JG, Yacyshyn EA, Mosher D, Brophy J, Ruban TN, Marshall DA.  Stand Up and Be Counted: Measuring and Mapping the Rheumatology Workforce in Canada.  J Rheumatol. 2017, 44(2):248-257.

 Study highlights include:

  • The current rheumatologist workforce is up to 203 rheumatologists short of fulfilling the CRA’s estimate that 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) rheumatologist is needed for every 75,000 Canadians.
  • The rheumatologist workforce in Canada is aging, with approximately 1/3 of respondents planning to retire in 5-10 years from the time of the survey (2015).
  • Projections suggest the workforce gap will not be filled, over the short- or long-term, based on the approximately 34 rheumatology residency training positions in Canada.
  • 16% of respondents reported participating in traveling clinics and 14% in telehealth or e-consultations to better serve patients in remote/rural areas. Even with this outreach, respondents estimated that 20% of patients travel upwards of 2hrs for an appointment.
  • Almost 50% of rheumatologists reported working in collaboration with allied health providers (AHPs) but noted that finances are the main barrier to expanding the involvement of AHPs in rheumatology patient care.

Further analysis and modeling based on the initial findings is available via:

Barber CE, Nasr M, Barnabe C, Badley E, Lacaille D, Pope J, Cividino A, Yacyshyn E, Baillier C, Mosher D, Thomson J, Charnock C, Throne JC, Zummer M, Brophy J, Ruban T, Ahulwalia V, McDougall R, Marshall DA. Planning for the rheumatologist workforce: Factors associated with work hours and volumes. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 2018. (e-pub ahead of print).

In addition, the Stand Up and Be Counted Too! survey is underway. This research focuses on workforce characteristics of multiple health care practitioners (non-physician) who consider themselves advanced or extended role providers of arthritis care across Canada.

Related Publications, Presentations, and Press:

Study Communiqués:

Barber CE., “Rheumatology workforce in Canada”. Canadian Rheumatology Association Journal.  Spring 2018 (Volume 28, Number 1).

Barber CE, Lundon K, Shupak R, Marshall D.  “So we stood up and got counted, now what?” Canadian Rheumatology Association Journal.  Spring 2017 (Volume 27, Number 1).

Announcement of Project Launch:

Barber CE, on behalf of Jewett L, Mosher D, Baillie C, Ahluwalia V, Thorne C, Zummer M, Cividino A, Averns H, and Marshall D.  “Stand Up and Be Counted“  Canadian Rheumatology Association Journal.

Preliminary background literature review on the rheumatology workforce in Canada:

Brophy J, Marshall DA, Badley EM, Hanly JG, Averns H, Ellsworth J, Pope JE, Barber CE. Measuring the Rheumatology Workforce in Canada: A Literature Review. J Rheumatol. 2016, 43(6):1121-9.

An update for Royal College – National Specialty Societies, Human Resource for Health Dialogue, June 2nd 2017: Mosher D.  Measuring and Mapping the Rheumatology Workforce in Canada

 Presentation of complete results at the Canadian Rheumatology Association Annual Scientific Meeting in Lake Louise, Alberta 2016:

Barber CEH, Jewett L, Ahluwalia V, Averns H, Baillie C, Badley EM Mosher D, Thorne JC,  Cividino A, Zummer M, Barnabe C, Lacaille D, Ellsworth J, Levy DM, Ruban T, Brophy J, Pope JE, McDougall R, Lundon K, Thomson J, Charnock C, Yacyshyn E, Marshall D. Measuring the Rheumatologist Workforce in Canada: Stand Up and Be Counted! (Abstract #140). 

 Presentation of preliminary results at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Francisco 2015: Barber CEH, Jewett L, Ahluwalia V, Baillie C, Mosher D, Zummer M, Thorne JC, Ellsworth J, Averns H, Barnabe C, Cividino A, Pope JE, Badley EM, Levy DM, Ruban T, Lundon K, McDougall R, Brophy J, Lacaille D, Marshall D, and the Canadian Rheumatology Association. Measuring the Rheumatologist Workforce in Canada: Preliminary Results of the Stand up and be Counted Survey. Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Scientific Meeting, November 2015, San Francisco.