• rss
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • linkedin

Subspecialty Careers: Rheumatology

The Discipline

From the Greek word rheuma, "that which flows as a river or stream." In ancient medical writings, "rheuma" was used to describe any thin discharge from a body surface or orifice. This term was eventually applied to an infection of the joints, presumably because an effusion of the joint space marks the various forms of arthritis.

Rheumatology deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and management of crystalline diseases, systemic rheumatic diseases, spondyloarthropathies, vasculitis, inflammatory muscle disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, recreational sports injury, soft-tissue diseases and trauma. The goal of the rheumatologist is the early diagnosis and treatment of these conditions to prevent disability and death.

Procedures

Important procedural skills include diagnostic and therapeutic joint aspiration, and joint and soft tissue injection of corticosteroids. Rheumatologists are expert in the interpretation of joint fluid analysis, including crystal identification, and the interpretation of serology associated with rheumatological disorders.

Training

Rheumatology fellowship training requires two years of accredited training beyond general internal medicine residency. Of the two years, a minimum of 12 months must include clinical training in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of medical diseases. Dual certification in Rheumatology and Allergy and Immunology requires a minimum of three years of training which must include (a) at least 12 months full-time clinical rheumatology, (b) weekly attendance for 18 consecutive months in a rheumatology ambulatory care program which must include continuity of patient care, and (c) at least 18 months of full-time allergy and immunology.

Certification

The American Board of Internal Medicine ABIM offers certification in Rheumatology. Dual certification in Rheumatology and Allergy and Immunology requires completion of the entire three-year program.

Training Positions

For the 2011-2012 academic year, there were 112 ACGME-accredited training programs in Rheumatology with 424 active training positions.

Major Professional Societies

Major Publications

Imagine the Possibilities: Careers in Internal Medicine

This career-counseling brochure [PDF] contains information about careers in internal medicine and is designed for medical and pre-medical students.

Benefits of ACP Membership for Students: ACP's free Medical Student Membership includes benefits designed especially to meet students' needs.

Find a Residency

Search ACP's Internal Medicine Residency Database for information on all internal medicine residency programs in the U.S. and Canada. (ACP Members only)

More search options

Have questions about the new ABIM MOC Program?

Have questions about the new ABIM MOC Program?

ACP explains the ABIM requirements and offers many free solutions to earn MOC points.

One Click to Confidence - Free to members

One Click to Confidence - Free to members ACP Smart Medicine is a new, online clinical decision support tool specifically for internal medicine. Get rapid point-of-care access to evidence-based clinical recommendations and guidelines. Plus, users can easily earn CME credit. Learn more