The Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) sponsored the Workforce and Wellness Survey to update the characteristics of the Canadian rheumatology workforce.
The survey comprised demographic and practice data, pandemic impacts, and the Mini Z burnout assessment survey. Between October 14, 2020, and March 5, 2021, CRA members received both French and English survey versions via email. The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) rheumatologists per 75,000 population was calculated by multiplying the median proportion of time spent in clinical practice by the Canadian Medical Association’s province rheumatologist statistics.
The survey was completed by 44% (183/417) of the estimated practicing rheumatologists (149 adults; 34 pediatric). The median age was 47, 62% were female, and 28% intended to retire within the next 5-10 years. Respondents spent an average of 65% of their time in clinical practice. The national average for FTE rheumatologists per 75,000 inhabitants was 0.62, ranging from 0.00 to 0.70 in each province/territory. This equates to a shortage of 1-78 FTE rheumatologists per province/territory and a national deficit of 194 FTE rheumatologists to achieve the CRA’s staffing criterion. Approximately half of those polled experienced burnout (51%). Women were more likely than males to report burnout (OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.42-5.93). Older age was associated with a lower risk of burnout (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.92-0.99). Because of the pandemic, 97% of rheumatologists said they spent more time providing virtual care.
Rheumatologists are in low supply in Canada. This scarcity may be exacerbated by the potential of burnout to staff retention and productivity. Therefore, strategies to solve these workforce concerns are urgently required.