The Rheumatology Nurses Society (RNS) is a professional organization committed to the development and education of healthcare professionals to benefit its members, patients, family and the community.


Our vision is to lead rheumatology healthcare professionals to excellence in the care of patients with rheumatologic diseases.

The RNS is a non-profit professional rheumatology organization representing registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice providers (APPs) which includes nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians assistants (PAs) who are engaged in clinical practice, education and research for the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. Through the efforts of our society, Rheumatology Nursing was recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 2012 as a nursing specialty. The RNS and the ANA co-published the Scope and Standards of Practice for Rheumatology Nursing in 2013. The RNS published the first edition of the Core Curriculum for Rheumatology Nursing in 2017 and the second edition is currently in progress.

Rheumatology research is providing expanding information about immune-mediated pathways that has translated into target specific therapies. These discoveries are exciting and challenging for rheumatology RNs and APPs. Rheumatology nursing offers the opportunity to care for patients with complex medical conditions while utilizing keen assessment skills, critical thinking pathways, and multidisciplinary approach. Rheumatology is for RNs and APPs who enjoy developing relationships with patients and families, who excel at patient education, enjoy research opportunities and are excited by decision-making challenges.


The Rheumatology Nurses Society (RNS) began with the passion of three nurses—Therese Dexter, RN, BSN, Elizabeth Grace, RN, and Vicky Ruffing, RN. Together, they had the vision to empower other RNs and APCs through education and support to make a positive difference in the lives of patients with rheumatic disease. Their mission was born out of personal experiences as they struggled alone to navigate the complexities of rheumatic diseases and treatment options.

The end of the 1990s revolutionized the field of rheumatology with the advent of biologic agents for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. At this time, there was a significant increase in the need for rheumatology healthcare professionals who specialize in treating patients with rheumatic disorders. During the past decade, the demand increased for healthcare professionals to gather to discuss treatment options and how they impact patients’ lives. Professionals voiced concerns about a lack of resources on how to best educate their patients and their families, how to safely administer biologic agents, and the need for established protocols and standardization.

In May 2006, in Boston, Massachusetts, a small group of nurses met to discuss the needs in rheumatology and established the idea and foundation for the Rheumatology Nurses Society. After that meeting, an overwhelming response was received about the interest in forming such a society. The idea was simple; create a society that could lead nurses to excellence in the care of the patients with rheumatic conditions. The RNS officially formed in January 2007 as a not-for-profit professional organization, an organization for rheumatology healthcare professionals, created by rheumatology nurses.

As the RNS moves forward, we have many objectives. We are an organization dedicated to healthcare professionals who are passionate about and committed to rheumatology and the promotion of excellence in the delivery of patient care. We work to remain the gold standard of rheumatology nursing practice through nurse certification, the creation of rheumatology nursing standards and protocols, and by acting as a primary resource to healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.