Information for Medical Students

Why Rheumatology?

Interesting field, great lifestyle, and you make a difference

Rheumatology is an exciting, dynamic, and rapidly advancing sub-speciality of internal medicine. It is a rewarding discipline, and offers some of the best professional and lifestyle opportunities that can be found in healthcare today.

Excellent professional & lifestyle opportunities

Professional opportunities for rheumatologists in Canada are near limitless. We are currently one of the most sought-after sub-specialists across all regions of Canada, in both nonacademic and academic settings.

Once qualified, you can basically name where you want to work, and choose the professional lifestyle that suits you. On-call work is not required in the vast majority of places and, in fact, hospital association is not really required at all. Our new treatments are all given in the community, and inpatient admissions are generally rare.

Make a huge difference in your patients’ lives

The advent of biologic drugs for the treatment of inflammatory arthritis has been a revolution in the treatment of rheumatic disease. Our aim is complete disease remission for diseases that historically left patients with deformity and permanent disability. Our success rate improves every year as research and treatment options continue to evolve.

Rheumatologists enjoy generally happy and grateful patients, and that makes for a happy group of doctors who are content in the knowledge that they consistently make incredible differences in people’s lives. We enjoy a professional life that can be free of on-call hassles or inpatient duties, and can easily choose a type of lifestyle that makes other healthcare practitioners envious.

Interested in taking the next step?

Connect with a Career Ambassador

If you’re interested in learning more about what its like to be a rheumatologist, we encourage you to connect with one of our Career Ambassadors.

Summer Studentship Programs

A great way to learn more about rheumatology is by participating in a summer studentship program offered by the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA).

The CRA offers two exciting programs for medical students: the clinical summer studentship, and the research summer studentship. You can learn more by visiting the CRA website’s Summer Studentship Page.

Rheumatology training programs

To learn more about Ontario’s training programs or to apply for specialty training, contact a Rheumatology Program Director.

Q&A with a Young Professional

Dr. Shirley Chow

Dr. Shirley Chow, Rheumatologist Dr. Chow is a rheumatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario. She is a Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and works as a clinician teacher with a interest in quality improvement and patient safety.

Q: How did you get into rheumatology?

I had never heard about rheumatology until my first year of medical school when I had an amazing professor teach us about musculoskeletal diseases. It piqued my interest so I did a one-day shadowing experience and completed a summer research and clinical studentship. I got to present my research at a couple of international and national meetings which was a lot of fun! Amazing mentors in rheumatology like Dr. Janet Pope and Dr. Dafna Gladman really helped solidify my interest in rheumatology and were tremendously inspiring.

Q: What do you like about rheumatology?

Besides being an interesting field, there are a lot of job opportunities. You can pretty much do anything you want, including research and teaching. There’s an opportunity for a great lifestyle and you can be as busy as you want to be.

Patient Profile

Erinn McQueen

Rheumatology Patient Erinn McQueen Erinn was a 21-year-old kinesiology student and varsity soccer player when she was slammed by the acute onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Extreme fatigue and other serious symptoms impacted her school and social life, forcing her to leave varsity sports and reconsider her priorities in school.

Erinn’s rheumatologist helped reign-in her RA, graduate from university, and live a normal life. She credits him with helping her achieve a sense of control over her RA, and relates: “I’m always so happy to see him. If I go in feeling crummy, I leave feeling great knowing that there‚Äôs a plan in place for my disease”. After family, Erinn considers her rheumatologist to be the most important person in her life.

Erinn’s path has not been easy. She has had 2 joint replacements and another surgery, and belongs to a subset of patients who experience a decline in the effectiveness of biologic treatments over time. Her rheumatologist plays a key ongoing role in ensuring that her RA is kept at bay, and that she enjoys the best quality of life possible. New treatments continue to be introduced as research continues at a rapid pace.

Today, Erinn is 38 and is married with two children, ages 6 and 8. She continued to work until a few years ago, when she chose to focus her attention on raising her children and helping others through arthritis advocacy work. She stays physically active by doing pilates, and she has recently completed an instructors’ course.

Get in touch with us

If you’re interested in a career in rheumatology, we’d love to help answer your questions. Please see our Career Ambassadors page and send us a note!

If you’d like to reach out to a rheumatology program director, please see our Directory of Ontario Program Directors.