ProfGuide Updated 

When we think about doctors, we usually think about general practitioners, pediatricians, or surgeons. However, there is a medical specialty that is often overlooked, but equally important: rheumatology. Rheumatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, which are conditions that affect the joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. In this article, we will take a closer look at the profession of rheumatology and everything you need to know about becoming a rheumatologist. By the way, recently the ProfGuide career guidance center has developed a precise career orientation test, which will tell you which professions are suitable for you, provide a conclusion about your personality type and intelligence.


Introduction to Rheumatologist as a profession

Rheumatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, which are conditions that affect the joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. These conditions can range from mild to severe and can be chronic or acute. Some examples of rheumatic diseases include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, and fibromyalgia.

Rheumatologists work closely with other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and nutritionists to provide comprehensive care to their patients. They use a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies to diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases.


Rheumatology is a broad medical specialty that encompasses many different sub-specializations. Some of the most common sub-specializations include pediatric rheumatology, geriatric rheumatology, sports medicine, and musculoskeletal imaging. Each of these sub-specializations requires additional training and expertise beyond the standard rheumatology training.

Tasks and responsibilities

Rheumatologists have a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, including:

  • Conducting patient assessments and medical history evaluations
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests such as blood tests and imaging studies
  • Developing treatment plans and prescribing medications
  • Providing patient education and counseling
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care
  • Participating in research and clinical trials to advance the field of rheumatology

Pros and Cons

Like any profession, rheumatology has its pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a rheumatologist:


  • Opportunity to help patients manage chronic conditions and improve their quality of life
  • Variety of sub-specializations and opportunities for career growth
  • High demand for rheumatologists, especially in rural and underserved areas
  • Competitive salary and benefits packages


  • Requires a significant amount of training and education
  • Dealing with patients with chronic conditions can be emotionally challenging
  • Requires long hours and on-call duties
  • Limited exposure to acute medical emergencies


The demand for rheumatologists is expected to grow in the coming years, as the population ages and more people are diagnosed with rheumatic diseases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physicians and surgeons, including rheumatologists, is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Salary ranges

The salary of a rheumatologist can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and sub-specialization. Here are some average salary ranges for rheumatologists in the USA, Canada, GB, and Australia:

  • USA: $250,000 to $400,000 per year
  • Canada: CAD 250,000 to CAD 450,000 per year
  • GB: £80,000 to £130,000 per year
  • Australia: AU$250,000 to AU$400,000 per year

Where do Rheumatologists work?

Rheumatologists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and academic institutions. They may also work in research, pharmaceuticals, or government agencies. Rheumatologists are needed in all of these settings because rheumatic diseases are common and can affect people of all ages.

Rheumatologists working in hospitals and clinics typically see patients with a wide range of rheumatic diseases, from mild to severe. Private practice rheumatologists often work with a smaller number of patients and may focus on specific sub-specializations. Rheumatologists working in academic institutions may split their time between patient care, research, and teaching.

Important qualities of a successful Rheumatologist

Successful rheumatologists possess several important qualities, including:

  • Strong communication skills to effectively communicate with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals
  • Excellent problem-solving skills to diagnose and treat complex rheumatic diseases
  • Attention to detail to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment
  • Empathy and compassion to support patients with chronic conditions
  • Ability to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals
  • Flexibility to adapt to changing patient needs and new medical treatments

Step-by-step career path

The career path to becoming a rheumatologist typically follows these steps:

  1. Earn a Bachelor's degree in a pre-medical field such as biology, chemistry, or physics.
  2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school.
  3. Complete a four-year medical degree program.
  4. Complete a residency program in internal medicine, which typically lasts three years.
  5. Complete a fellowship in rheumatology, which typically lasts two to three years.

How to become a Rheumatologist

To become a rheumatologist in the USA, you must complete a four-year medical degree program followed by a three-year residency program in internal medicine. After completing your residency, you must complete a two to three-year fellowship in rheumatology. In addition, you must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and obtain a state medical license.

Higher education is necessary to become a rheumatologist in Canada, GB, and Australia as well. The requirements vary by country, but typically include completing a medical degree program, a residency program in internal medicine, and a fellowship in rheumatology. In Canada and GB, you must also obtain certification from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians.

Where to become a Rheumatologist

If you are interested in becoming a rheumatologist, there are many excellent medical schools, residency programs, and fellowship programs in the USA, Canada, GB, and Australia. Here are five examples of top programs in each country:


  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis


  • University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
  • McGill University Faculty of Medicine
  • University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine


  • University of Oxford Medical School
  • University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine
  • Imperial College School of Medicine
  • University of Edinburgh Medical School
  • University of Glasgow School of Medicine


  • University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
  • Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
  • University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health
  • University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Adelaide Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Can you enter the profession with a different degree?

It is possible to enter the profession of rheumatology with a different degree, but it would require additional training and education. For example, if you have a degree in nursing or physical therapy, you could pursue additional education and training in rheumatology to become a rheumatology nurse or physical therapist. However, if you want to become a rheumatologist, you would need to complete medical school and the required residency and fellowship programs.

In conclusion, rheumatology is an important and growing medical specialty that provides care and support to patients with rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists play a vital role in diagnosing and treating these conditions, improving patients' quality of life, and advancing the field of rheumatology through research and innovation. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a rheumatologist, it will require a significant amount of education and training, but the rewards can be significant.

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