Employment support for young RMD
patients too often neglected or underused
By Eli Zimmerman
College graduates and young
working professionals with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are ready to work. They
just need some help, according to
speakers at a PARE session.
The session featured speakers
deeply involved in creating programmes to help young people
with RMDs navigate through the
complex nature of being in the
workforce with an RMD.
Lembe Kullamaa, a patient advocate, discussed a workshop meeting on the topic that she recently
helped to organise.
“The workshop came together
as a common idea of the European
Patients’ Forum Youth Group and
European Multiple Sclerosis Plat-
form Youth Group,” Ms. Kullamaa
said in an interview. “We felt that
the topic of young people with
chronic conditions in the labour
Ms. Kullamaa also touched on
some of the challenges facing
young people with RMDs while try-
ing to secure a job.
Jeanette Andersen, a youth leader and advocate, delved into the
stigmas faced by young professionals with RMDs and the hurdles
these patients must overcome.
“It is often a problem for young
people with RMDs that they have
to take off time from work for
doctor appointments, blood tests,
or disease activity, which makes
them ‘bad’ or ‘unstable’ workers
in the eyes of their coworkers and
Andersen said in
the strengths and
some of the cur-
that has been
enacted to curb
against those with an RMD.
Maureen McAllister, manager of
the Joint Working Service at Ar-
thritis Care Scotland, spoke about
some of the support systems in
place in Scotland that are already
helping young RMD patients and
the importance of both medical
and nonmedical therapy.
“The Joint Working Service offers
employability guidance, support,
information, and signposting and
is funded within Arthritis Care,“
Ms. McAllister said in an interview.
“Complementing medical treat-
ments with access to condition-spe-
cific services, which have a good
understanding of the impact of the
condition, can help people with ar-
thritis to increase their capacity, con-
fidence, and resilience in managing
everyday life and work issues.”
None of the speakers had conflicts of interest to declare.
Ms. Andersen Ms. McAllister Ms. Kullamaa
“ It is often a problem for young people with RMDs
that they have to take off time from work for doctor
appointments, blood tests, or disease activity, which
makes them ‘bad’ or ‘unstable’ workers in the eyes
of their coworkers and employer.“