The Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) launched the Workforce and Wellness Survey to update the Canadian rheumatology workforce characteristics.
The survey included demographic and practice information, pandemic effects, and the Mini Z survey to assess burnout. French and English survey versions were distributed to CRA members electronically between October 14, 2020, and March 5, 2021. The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) rheumatologists per 75,000 population was estimated from the median proportion of time in clinical practice multiplied by provincial rheumatologist numbers from the Canadian Medical Association.
Forty-four percent (183/417) of the estimated practicing rheumatologists (149 adult; 34 pediatric) completed the survey. The median age was 47 years, 62% were female, and 28% planned to retire within the next 5–10 years. Respondents spent a median of 65% of their time in clinical practice. FTE rheumatologists per 75,000 population were 0.62 nationally and ranged between 0.00 and 0.70 in each province/territory. This represents a deficit of 1–78 FTE rheumatologists per province/territory and 194 FTE rheumatologists nationally to meet the CRA’s workforce benchmark. Approximately half of survey respondents reported burnout (51%). Women were more likely to report burnout (OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.42–5.93). Older age was protective against burnout (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.92–0.99). As a result of the pandemic, 97% of rheumatologists reported spending more time engaged in virtual care.
There is a shortage of rheumatologists in Canada. This shortage may be compounded by the threat of burnout to workforce retention and productivity. Strategies to address these workforce issues are needed urgently.