A rheumatologist is a medical specialist that diagnoses and treats a variety of diseases in children and adults caused by inflammation in the joints, muscles, and bones.
Explore what do Rheumatologists treat, how to become a Rheumatologist, and how much do Rheumatologists make on this page.
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What Do Rheumatologists Treat?
A rheumatologist is an internal medicine specialist (aka internist) or pediatrician who obtained an advanced specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and systemic autoimmune disorders, generally known as rheumatic diseases.
- Musculoskeletal diseases can affect the joints, muscles, and bones, creating pain, inflammation, stiffness, and deformation in some cases.
- Autoimmune immune diseases occur when one’s immune system sends inflammation to areas of the body when it is not required causing damage. These rheumatic diseases can also affect the eyes, skin, nervous system, and internal organs.
- Rheumatologists treat joint diseases similar to orthopedists, but they do not perform any operations or surgeries.
- Common diseases treated by rheumatologists are osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, tendinitis, and lupus.
- The treatments include analgesics, NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), Steroids (in severe cases), and DMARDs (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs).
- Many rheumatologists also carry research to find a cause of and better treatment of a rheumatic disease.
How To Become A Rheumatologist?
To become a rheumatologist, one should:
- Graduate high school with a high GPA.
- Complete a “pre-med” Bachelor’s degree with courses in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Math, including laboratory practice.
- Volunteer in different settings, preferably related to a medical field.
- Pass the Medical college admission test (MCAT).
- Obtain a medical degree at a licensed medical school (requires 4 years of training, including internship) or osteopathic school.
- Pass the three stages of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
- If you study at an osteopathic school, you would need to past the United States Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
- Join a 3 – year residency either in internal medicine or pediatrics.
- Get certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine /American Board of Pediatrics.
- Join a 2-3 year rheumatology fellowship.
- Get certified in rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine/American Board of Pediatrics , depending on the chosen subspecialty.
- Join workshops in rheumatology offered by the American College of Rheumatology to gain more experience and knowledge.
How Much Do Rheumatologists Make?
The average salary range for a rheumatologist in the USA is between $201,700 and $258,170 per year.
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