Rheumatology nurses care for patients who are suffering from the various medical conditions that impact the body's joints and muscles, such as osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, spondylitis, myositis, and Lyme disease. Many of these conditions are caused by general overuse or wear and tear, while others are caused by issues with the immune system.
Patients with rheumatic conditions can live for decades with their illnesses, and rheumatology nurses work hard to help them manage their condition so that they can be as pain-free and healthy as possible.
Duties commonly carried out by rheumatology nurses typically include:
Rheumatology nurses work with their patients in a variety of settings. Common environments include:
Prospective rheumatology nurses need to be extremely well-versed and familiar with the musculoskeletal system of the body (i.e. muscles, joints, bones) and their associated illnesses. They should also be patient, empathetic, good communicators, and experienced in pain management techniques. An RN degree and some experience working with these types of patients will help a prospective rheumatology nurse enter the field.
Rheumatology nurses must first graduate from an accredited school with either an ADN or BSN degree, though many hospitals prefer a baccalaureate education. Upon graduating and passing the required NCLEX-RN exam, you must gain a few years of nursing experience in a rheumatology setting and take some continuing education courses in the rheumatology discipline to be eligible for certification.
Yes, rheumatology nurses must have an active and unencumbered RN license in order to practice in their field. These nurses should also have a bit of experience in a clinical setting in the field in order to be eligible for the Rheumatology Nursing Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) represents the organizational body that awards certifications for rheumatology nurses.
In order to be eligible for Rheumatology Nursing Certificate, you must meet the following criteria:
Additional certifications that may be helpful:
Currently, there's a shortage of rheumatology nursing professionals. As of today, there are only about 5,000 rheumatology nurses working across the United States and research has estimated that this number will not meet future demand. Researchers believe that by 2025, there will only be half of the rheumatology nurses available needed to meet the demands of the healthcare field. Because the demand for these nurses is greater than the supply, nursing professionals who are thinking about entering this field can expect more opportunities and greater salaries. On top of that, advances in technology are also causing the field of rheumatology to expand.
According to ZipRecruiter, rheumatology nurses make an average annual salary of about $97,500. Factors like the city and state where a rheumatology nurse is employed, how much clinical experience they have, the employing organization, their educational levels, and more will all play into how much their yearly salaries will amount to. Rheumatology nurses who are employed full-time will also typically receive generous benefits packages from their employers which are likely to include medical insurance coverage, as well as some annual sick leave and paid time off. These things will vary and depend on the employer.