To identify what learners and professionals associated with rheumatology programs across Canada recommend as ways to attract future trainees.
Data from online surveys and individual interviews with participants from 9 rheumatology programs were analyzed using the thematic framework analysis to identify messages and methods to interest potential trainees in rheumatology.
There were 103 participants (78 surveyed, 25 interviewed) who indicated that many practitioners were drawn to rheumatology because of the aspects of work life, and that educational events and hands-on experiences can interest students. Messages centered on working life, career opportunities, and the lifestyle of rheumatologists. Specific ways to increase awareness about rheumatology included information about practice type, intellectual and diagnostic challenges, diversity of diseases, and patient populations. Increased opportunity for early and continued exposure for both medical students and internal medicine residents was also important, as was highlighting job flexibility and availability and a good work-life balance. Although mentors were rarely mentioned, many participants indicated educational activities of role models. The relatively low pay scale of rheumatologists was rarely identified as a barrier to choosing a career in rheumatology.
This is the first pan-Canadian initiative using local data to create a work plan for developing and evaluating tools to promote interest in rheumatology that could help increase the number of future practitioners.