Winter 2022 (Volume 32, Number 4)

Report from the Human Resources Committee

By Claire Barber, MD, PhD, FRCPC;
Hengameh Kheirkhah, MD; Nicole Hartfeld, MC, MSc; Jessica Widdifield, PhD; and Dana Jerome, MD, MEd, FRCPC

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The recent Canadian Rheumatology Association’s (CRA) Workforce and Wellness survey1 highlighted several challenges in our workforce which threaten optimal rheumatology care delivery including i) a national deficit of full-time equivalent (FTE) rheumatologists to meet the benchmark of
1 rheumatologist per population of 75,000; ii) high numbers of retirements in the next 5-10 years; and iii) over half of the respondents reported burnout. While the survey was conducted over the pandemic, which could have contributed to the high rates of burnout, other studies have also reported high rates of burnout in rheumatologists pre-pandemic.2

Beyond the personal impact of burnout, high rates of burnout can impact the workforce in many ways including impacts on the quality of care provided as well as productivity, job turnover, and early retirement.3 Physician burnout is a public health problem. To address this, the Human Resources Committee is developing recommendations about what strategies may be most effective to address burnout in rheumatologists. For this work, we have conducted a systematic review of published systematic reviews on interventions to address physician burnout based on Cochrane guidance. This work has been led by
Dr. Hengameh Kheirkhah and Registered Provisional Psychologist Nicole Hartfeld, and has been submitted to the CRA Annual Scientific Meeting. This endeavor will be supplemented by a review of resources currently available either provincially or nationally to manage physician burnout. The Human Resources Committee will then review available resources and evidence to make recommendations about effective potential strategies to address rheumatologist burnout and identify areas in need of future research. This work will be finalized over the fall and winter months, and results will be shared with the broader CRA community when available through social media, a publication, and on the Human Resources website.

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Claire Barber, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Associate Professor,
Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences,
Cumming School of Medicine,
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Hengameh Kheirkhah, MD
Rheumatology Resident, Department of Medicine,
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Nicole Hartfeld, MC, MSc
Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine,
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta

Jessica Widdifield, PhD
Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute, ICES
Associate Professor, University of Toronto,
Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation
Toronto, Ontario

Dana Jerome, MD, MEd, FRCPC
Chair, CRA Human Resources Committee
Program Director, Rheumatology Training Program
Assistant Professor of Medicine,
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario


1. Kulhawy-Wibe SC, Widdifield J, Lee JJY, et al. Results From the 2020 Canadian Rheumatology Association's Workforce and Wellness Survey. J Rheumatol. 2022;49(6):635-643.

2. Tiwari V, Kavanaugh A, Martin G, Bergman M. High Burden of Burnout on Rheumatology Practitioners. J Rheumatol. 2020;47(12):1831-1834.

3. Patel RS, Bachu R, Adikey A, et al. Factors Related to Physician Burnout and Its Consequences: A Review. Behav Sci (Basel). 2018;8(11).


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