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2021 Specialty Match Day Results Show Need to Increase Interest in Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowships

December 21, 2021 | ACR News


Adult Fellowships Filled at nearly 100% and Pediatric Fellowships at 69%

ATLANTA – The American College of Rheumatology is pleased to announce another successful recruitment season and welcomes this impressive pool of applicants to the field of rheumatology. Nearly 74 percent of the eligible candidates interested in adult rheumatology and 96 percent of eligible applicants interested in pediatric rheumatology were matched to fellowship programs for the 2022 appointment year as part of the annual National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

Rheumatology leaders again noticed a stark contrast when looking at the percentage of available adult and pediatric fellowship slots that were filled. Whereas the adult programs filled 97.8 percent of their available slots, the pediatric programs only filled 69 percent, signaling a need to increase interest in pediatric rheumatology. While the number of adult fellowship matches has seen a steady increase over the past five years, the interest from candidates exceeded the number of available positions. Continuing to make progress in these areas will be important given the workforce shortage projections identified in ACR’s 2015 workforce study.

"Increasing fellowship training capacity in both pediatric and adult rheumatology is an important way to mitigate the expected workforce shortages in both fields in coming years,” said Beth Marston, MD, chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Committee on Rheumatology Training and Workforce Issues (COTW). “In pediatric rheumatology, like many other pediatric specialties, the limiting factor is the number of interested candidates. The number of available positions has not really changed over the last several years, but multiple positions again remained unfilled this year.”

“For the 2022 appointment year, there were 27 positions filled, which has remained steady in recent years. The fact that the number of applicants to pediatric rheumatology has not grown despite the number of available slots, suggests the need for additional efforts to understand and address barriers to choosing rheumatology fellowship training as a career path for pediatricians,” continued Marston.

“By contrast, adult rheumatology training is among the most competitive fields now, filling over 95 percent of positions each year, so increasing the number of graduates depends on increasing available training positions. This year there were 264 positions filled, which represents a steady increase over the last 5 years. However, as in previous years, a significant number of applicants did not match, suggesting that further support for funding and creating fellowship positions is likely to continue to directly translate to increased numbers of graduates entering the workforce,” Marston concluded.

The ACR is committed to finding ways to impact these factors, particularly in underserved geographic areas where patients have limited or no access to rheumatology specialty care. There are a wide variety of efforts in progress aimed at improving the rheumatology pipeline through increasing exposure within medical schools and pediatric residencies, increasing access to patients in underserved areas through collaboration with primary care physicians and advanced practice providers, advocacy for loan reimbursement, and exploring creative opportunities for increasing and filling training slots for adult and pediatric rheumatology fellows.

This year the Committee on Training and Workforce has also initiated a survey of combined medicine-pediatrics graduates in rheumatology to better understand their career pathways. This has the potential to lead to additional insights about trainee career decisions. The ACR also continues to provide education and support for programs and program directors to better understand and manage changing curricular and regulatory needs and guidance for divisions interested in increasing fellowship positions. Additional efforts to understand and address the geographic variations and needs within the rheumatology workforce are also underway.

The NRMP, established in 1952 at the request of medical students, uses a computerized, mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants and program directors to fill training positions available at teaching hospitals in the United States. See full details of the 2021 Match Day results for adult fellowships and results for the pediatric fellowships.


Media Contact
Amanda Head


About the American College of Rheumatology
Founded in 1934, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is a not-for-profit, professional association committed to advancing the specialty of rheumatology that serves nearly 8,500 physicians, health professionals, and scientists worldwide. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatology professionals are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

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