Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 62,
November 2010 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Atlanta, Georgia November 6-11, 2010.

An Updated Immunology Curriculum for Rheumatology Fellows.

Patel1,  Rahul K., Hodge1,  Lisa, Simecka1,  Jerry, Rubin2,  Bernard R.

UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX
UNT Health Science Center, Birmingham, MI


Basic immunology is a rapidly advancing area, with numerous clinical advances stemming from basic immunologic insights. Educating rheumatology fellows in training on basic immunology topics remains a challenge. Residents begin rheumatology programs having matriculated in widely different medical school and internal medicine environments. Balancing basic immunology concepts, experimental methods, and review of classic and recent immunology literature is a challenge, while maintaining a clinically relevant approach to the topic.

In an attempt to improve the basic immunology curriculum for our rheumatology fellows in training, we updated the immunology course to incorporate a clinically oriented text, lectures from clinical and basic research faculty, journal club style presentation of papers by fellows, and lectures by clinicians and basic researchers from industry.

Exam scores from a pre-test and post course test are compared.


4 fellows (two 2nd year fellows, two 1st year fellows) completed the course. The course is taught from January to April. It consisted of 2 weekly sessions, 2 hours each, for 13 weeks. The text chosen for the course was Chapel et al Essentials of Clinical Immunology, 5th edition, 2006. Fellows were given weekly reading assignments from the text. One weekly session consisted of didactic lectures by immunology and clinical rheumatology faculty, covering key chapters from the text. The second weekly session consisted of discussion of journal papers from immunology literature. Papers were picked by rheumatology fellows to cover recent topics discussed in didactic lectures. Finally, clinical science liaisons and basic researchers from industry were invited to present unbranded talks covering basic immunology topics relevant to therapeutics in rheumatology. Participating fellows in training were given a pre-test at the start of the course, as well as a post-test at the conclusion of the course., with 30 multiple choice questions, written by immunology faculty. The pre and post tests included different questions, covering similar topics in basic immunology.


Pre and post-test results were available for 3 fellows (1 fellow was absent on the pre and post test date). Results for the pre-test were 33 and 33% for both first year fellows, and 73% for 2nd year fellow with post-test results of 73 and 67% for first year fellows, and 87% for 2nd year fellow. All fellows showed an increase between pre to post test results, ranging from absolute increases of 15% to 34%.


Our experience suggests that rheumatology fellows' understanding of immunologic topics, as reflected by increases between pre and post test exam results, showed improvement. Further longer term data, including measuring outcomes from the rheumatology in-service exams and board certification scores, would help support whether this approach can lead to long term successful education of fellows in training on immunologic topics.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Patel, Rahul K., Hodge, Lisa, Simecka, Jerry, Rubin, Bernard R.; An Updated Immunology Curriculum for Rheumatology Fellows. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62 Suppl 10 :1430
DOI: 10.1002/art.29196

Abstract Supplement

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