Objective. Assess the workforce and workplace for rheumatology, and the investigative work of early career rheumatologists.
Methods. Early career rheumatologists were defined as practicing physicians that joined the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1991-2005, were 49 years of age or younger on joining, and resided in North America. This cohort participated in a Web-based survey distributed by ACR. A total of 247 survey instruments (21.2 % response) were used for this analysis. Survey questions were designed to obtain core insights about: the workforce, workplace, investigative activities, funding, and demographic profile.
Results. Respondents from all workplaces---clinical, academic, federal, industrial---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- 2 research was intermediate, and few respondents pursued basic- or prevention-oriented research in any workplace. Rheumatologists obtained extramural (21.3 %) and intramural (78.7 %) funds to pay portions of their salaries for time spent on research. Receiving an NIH K08/K23 award was associated with receiving federal research-project grants (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/wk dedicated to research (P < 0.01).
Conclusions. The results 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.