A Year in Review 2021

It has been a busy and vibrant year for us here at the Rheumatology Nurses Society (RNS), and we can’t believe it is already time to present to you our 2021 Year in Review! 

In this blog, we will cover the highlights from 2021, review the annual events and initiatives that took place throughout the year, and present to you the many exciting things in store for our community in 2022. This past year has held many opportunities for development and education, as we continue forward in our mission to lead nurses and advanced practice providers to excellence in the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. As we anticipate what the next year holds for our organization, we first want to mark all the high points and progress we have made throughout the year. 

Welcome to the 2021 RNS Year in Review! 

Virtual Pacific Coast Rheumatology Forum

Live Event: February 4-6, 2021

At the Virtual Pacific Coast Rheumatology Forum (PCRF), we offered a full weekend of sessions from world-class faculty who presented the latest treatments, guidelines and therapy methods in rheumatology. 

This year’s PCRF featured insightful and opportune topics, including sessions such as Clinical Perspectives of Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) Through the Eyes of Dermatology, presented by Former RNS Board Member, Linda Grinnell-Merrick, NP-BC, and Veronica Richarson, MSN, ANP-C, DCNP, and Navigating the COVID-19 Vaccines with Your Patients presented by Gordon K. Lam, MD, FACR. Attendees of PCRF had the opportunity to accrue 8.0 continuing nursing contact hours, including 1.5 in pharmacotherapeutic hours.

Dear Diary… Unlocking the Secrets to Better Care of Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) 

Live Webinars: March 11, 23, and 25

Throughout the year we hosted a total of 13 live webinars for our Dear Diary series, our educational activity that showcases an innovative visual medium to effectively feature real patient cases while assessing the learner’s ability to empathize with the daily struggles of PsA patients. 

At the recent fall 2021 Digital Health Awards, our Dear Diary course The Clinical Evidence: Making the Appropriate Treatment Choices in PsA was the bronze recipient in the Medical Animation category. Taught by Barbara Kienzle, BSN, RN, this course is a part of our impactful series serving to Unlock the Secrets to Better Care of Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis. Through our live webinars, participants were able to earn 1.75 continuing nursing education contact hours, and course participants can still earn up to 1.5 continuing nursing education contact hours including 1.5 pharmacotherapeutic hours. Three of The Clinical Evidence series, The Clinical Evidence: What Sets PsA Apart from Other Rheumatic Diseases, The Clinical Evidence: Addressing Hurdles to Care, and The Clinical Evidence: Making the Appropriate Treatment Choices in PsA are still available for learners to participate in, and can all be accessed in our Learning Center.

RNS Virtual Spring Summit

Live Event: April 22 – 24, 2021 

At this year’s RNS Virtual Spring Summit, top educators from the field of rheumatology explored the clinical faces of rheumatic disease with key focuses on the fundamentals of Understanding Immunology and Applied Therapies in Rheumatology, exploring Disease States, and Clinical Application. 

Addressing a range of the essentials of immunology to the current concerns of health disparities, summit sessions included topics such as, Applied Immunology to Autoimmune Diseases: COVID-19 as Immunology Boot Camp (Part 1) taught Leonard H. Calabrese, DO, and Racial Disparities in Healthcare: Be Informed, Protect Your Patients taught by Danielle King, MPH, Ph.D. (c). This year’s summit offered 8.75 continuing nursing contact hours, including 1.0 pharmacotherapeutic hours, and 8.75 AAPA Category 1 CME credit.

14th Annual Rheumatology Nurses Society Conference

Live Event: August 4 – 7, 2021 

The 14th Annual RNS Conference offered an educational experience focused on New and Current Therapies and Guidelines. As our largest event of the year, this conference offered ample opportunities for networking, education, and much more for all who attended.

Courses at the annual RNS conference included topics that covered everything from the urgent concern of racism in our healthcare system and COVID-19 related issues within rheumatology, with the presented sessions The Impact of Bias, Discrimination and Racism on Health Care with our keynote speaker: Lynn C. Smitherman, MD, and in continuation of his session from the 2021 RNS Virtual Spring Summit, Leonard H. Calabrese, DO, presented, Applied Immunology to Autoimmune Diseases: COVID-19 as Immunology Boot Camp (Part 2). Attendees of the RNS Conference earned up to 12.5 continuing nursing contact hours including 5.0 pharmacotherapeutic hours or up to 12.5 AAPA Category 1 CME credits. 

RNS Virtual Fall Summit

Live Event: November 11-13, 2021 

This year’s RNS Virtual Fall Summit featured topics surrounding the Clinical Applications and Presentation of Care. In-depth sessions, such as Case Studies of Rheumatic Diseases, presented by RNS board members Teri Puhalsky, BSN, RN, CRNI, and Barbara Kienzle, BSN, RN, helped learners better identify the beginning stages of rheumatic diseases, understand causes and progressive treatments for specific rheumatic diseases. 

Other sessions offered at this summit focused on the theme of Clinical Faces of Rheumatic Diseases where presenters covered both a general and in-depth review of the manifestation, diagnosis, treatment guidelines, and more on Lupus, Psoriatic Arthritis, Gout, and Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Clinical Faces of Rheumatic Diseases: Lupus was presented by Carolyn Zic, MSN, FNP-BC, Psoriatic Arthritis by April Johnson, MSN, APRN, CNP, Gout by Nancy Eisenberger, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, and Ankylosing Spondylitis by Monica Richey, MSN, ANP-BC. Attendees earned up to 8.75 continuing nursing contact hours, including 1.0 pharmacotherapeutic hours, or up to 8.75 AAPA Category 1 CME credit.

Beyond our annual conferences and summits, the RNS has explored several different initiatives  this year to enhance the education we offer and the platforms in which we provide them. Here we list an overview of the exciting additions of educational experiences we have been able to provide for our members this year. 

Workforce Initiative

Bridging the workforce gap is an initiative that we at the RNS are passionate about and continue to actively address. This year we were able to continue our BreakRheum series, speaking with nurses, nurse practitioners, and advanced practice providers about their journey to rheumatology. Viewers learn the logistics of rheumatology work, discover the growing opportunities available, can grasp the urgent need for more practitioners in this stimulating and enriching field, and further understand the purpose of a career in rheumatology. Learn how you can get further involved, and invite others to join you in rheumatology.

Learning Center

Within our Learning Center platform, we launched 24 educational courses in 2021. In addition to our award-winning Dear Diary webinar, we are especially proud of our Rheumatology Masters: The Ultimate Quiz Show Series, which included The Management of PsA and RA and The Pathophysiology of Rheumatoid and PsA. We also released our interactive course The Role of JAK Inhibition in Rheumatic Disease and so much more. 


RNS Chapters launched National and Pediatric Chapters which have now had attendees from all across the United States join and learn about subjects including biosimilars, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and adult-onset still’s disease. If you have not joined a Chapter, now is a great time to join as many groups are beginning to meet in person again, learn more.


The RNS Advocacy Committee has signed onto 15 different bills on both the national and state levels. Additionally, our advocacy platform has created a simple avenue for anyone ready to get involved with advocating and making change. For further details and explanations on each bill signed, read more on our 2021 advocacy recap blog here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 2021 Year in Review! Stepping into this new year we greatly anticipate the new opportunities we will have to learn and grow together. There are many amazing education, advocacy, and networking opportunities in store for 2022, as well as a return to some in-person events! As one of the largest producers of evidence-based accredited education in rheumatology, the RNS continues to develop the most relevant and up-to-date evidence-based content for registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), and other healthcare professionals who are engaged in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy for the care of adult and pediatric patients with rheumatic diseases.

It has been such an exciting year for our organization, and it would not have been possible without our exceptional RNS members and supporters. Thank you for being a part of the RNS as we continue to explore new ways to equip, educate and engage healthcare workers in the field of rheumatology. We look forward to all the opportunities we will have to serve YOU in the year to come!  


Carrie Beach BSN, RN‑BC

AUTHOR PROFILE: Carrie Beach BSN, RN-BC, is a rheumatology nurse with the Columbus Arthritis Center in Columbus, OH, and the President of the Rheumatology Nurses Society