|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 143-144
Indian college of rheumatology: An idea whose time has come!
Rohini Handa1, Debashish Danda2, Ramnath Misra3, Alakendu Ghosh4
1 Department of Rheumatology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Rheumatology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
4 Department of Rheumatology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
|Date of Web Publication||8-Jul-2019|
Prof. Rohini Handa
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi - 110 076
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Handa R, Danda D, Misra R, Ghosh A. Indian college of rheumatology: An idea whose time has come!. Indian J Rheumatol 2019;14:143-4
Indian Rheumatology and the Indian Rheumatology Association (IRA) have come of age. The sapling planted by a few farsighted professionals in 1960 has matured. The Indian Rheumatism Association, as it was then known, was registered in 1960 at Bombay (now Mumbai) with late Dr. MM Desai as its first President. It was a founding member of the South East Asia and Pacific Area League Against Rheumatism, the forerunner of Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR). The office shifted to New Delhi in 2003. The Bulletin of IRA, a newsletter of the association, made way for Journal of Indian Rheumatism Association (JIRA). The organization itself was rechristened as the IRA and JIRA was succeeded by the Indian Journal of Rheumatology. The small and concise Manual of Rheumatology conceptualized by Late Prakash Pispati has evolved into a multi-author textbook, now into its 5th edition. The annual meetings of IRA-the IRACONs have metamorphosed from single hall meetings with 40–50 attendees to large, vibrant meetings spread over 3 days with more than a thousand attendees and an ever burgeoning number of abstracts and sizeable overseas faculty. The membership of IRA has witnessed a steady growth and numbers nearly 1200 at present. The demographics of the scientific programs and the membership have changed dramatically over the past 20 years. The bulk of initial members were physicians or orthopedic surgeons interested in Rheumatology and the initial scientific efforts revolved around creating awareness about rheumatic diseases and their treatment among internists, general physicians, and allied specialties. The focus was on awareness. In recent years, the pool of formally trained rheumatologists has expanded considerably buttressed by several rheumatologists trained abroad who have chosen to return to India. The training programs include DM and DNB Rheumatology. The IRA membership is now restricted to those who have completed 2 years' fellowship (structured) or DM/DNB in Rheumatology or Clinical Immunology. While not being exclusionary, the association and its meetings now are more for rheumatologists with the scientific content reflecting this.
With the IRA focus expanding from awareness about rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases to curriculum development, manpower/human resource augmentation, setting of research agenda for India, clinical practice guidelines and recommendation development, international exchange programs, fellows' retreat and collaborative research among others, there is a perceived need for starting an academic wing of the IRA, to be called the Indian College of Rheumatology (ICR). This concept was approved by the Executive Committee of IRA and subsequently by the General Body of IRA at its meeting held at Guwahati on December 8, 2018.
The College is being established within the governance of the IRA with the following objectives:
- To train medical professionals in the field of rheumatology
- To implement and carry out all the educational activities including Postdoctoral Fellowship in Rheumatology, to be called ICR-PDF
- To Guide the Association from time to time in academic activities and develop new programs.
The shortage of rheumatologists in the country and the acute mismatch between disease burden and rheumatologists available has been talked about ad nauseam and emphasized ad infinitum. The number of existing centers offering DM and DNB are insufficient to take care of the workforce requirements of our specialty for the next decade at least. The governmental efforts are conspicuous by their absence and Rheumatology is not on the radar of the health policy planners, at least for the present. The current leadership of IRA taking a proactive role mooted the idea of the ICR and spearheaded the plan to translate it action. The College is a culmination of these efforts. It has been tasked with starting a countrywide postdoctoral fellowship to bolster the rheumatology workforce in India. The College vision and mission statement are spelt out in [Box 1], and the College logo is depicted in [Figure 1].
At present, several institutions are offering fellowships in Rheumatology with varying duration and differing standards. One of the foremost mandates of the College is to enhance the skills of care providers who are working in the field of Rheumatology and ensure teaching can be standardized, common minimum standards that are peer-reviewed and aligned with the contemporary standards of care adopted, patient care improved, and good quality care provided to patients as pertains to the specialty and discipline of Rheumatology. It is hoped that these centers shall be brought under the umbrella of ICR-PDF and common minimum standards implemented. A syllabus has been formulated. Fellows would be required to pass a centralized country wide exit examination of stringent standards conducted by a national faculty. While joining this would be entirely voluntary, it is hoped that the academic credibility provided by the ICR would motivate most centers to join and enjoy academic benchmarking.
Challenges will crop up as the project takes off. One of the important bottle necks being the fact that fellowship programs being run by professional societies do not have governmental recognition. Despite these several professional bodies in India are offering training courses that are peer-reviewed and meet an unfulfilled need. The ICR-PDF is a step in this direction. It shall be clearly and explicitly mentioned that the ICR-PDF programs are not recognized by the Medical Council of India/other Governmental regulatory bodies.
The College would have members and fellows as its intellectual community. The College Membership and Fellowship would symbolize academic achievement, peer recognition, and professional standing for joinees. The first College Convocation is planned during the IRACON at Puducherry in December 2019.
A detailed note has been circulated to all IRA members to elicit and solicit their views, comments, and suggestions. The ICR is a work in progress. The mandate, composition, and characteristics are bound to change with time. The ICR marks the beginning of a new journey for IRA. It is an idea whose time has come!
RH is the Dean of ICR, DD is the President of IRA and Chairman of ICR, RM is the Dean Designate of ICR and AG is the President Elect and Chairman Elect of ICR.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.