Rheumatology involves the care of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
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Entry Route into Rheumatology
Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme and they will need to complete core training on one of the following pathways:
Trainees must complete four to six medical placements which must involve acute on-call work.
Job Progression as a Rheumatologist
Higher speciality taring starts at ST3, lasts four years, and requires applicants to have full Royal College of Physicians membership. Dual training in General Internal Medicine and Rheumatology is possible if trainees apply for a Dual-CCT Programme, and complete at least five years in higher speciality training. A trainee rheumatologist may also develop subspeciality interests in subjects such as Paediatric Rheumatology, Sports Medicine, or metabolic bone disease.
Trainees can apply for consultant positions six months before obtaining their CCT, and there are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as
- a director of medical education overseeing postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean responsible for managing the training programme.
Academic Rheumatology Roles
Trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level, whilst those interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship.
Competition for Rheumatology Posts
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 3.1 in the first round, with 115 applications for 37 NTN posts, with 41% of applicants applying for Rheumatology only. In the second round, the competition ratio was 1.3, with 42 applications for 32 NTN posts and 1 LAT post.
In December 2017, there were
- 597 consultants,
- 9 associate specialists,
- 19 speciality doctors,
- 2 staff grades,
- 256 speciality registrars,
- 75 core trainees,
- 21 F2 trainees, and
- 30 F1 trainees.
Salaries in Rheumatology
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments and situations. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life of a Rheumatologist
A rheumatologist mainly works in outpatient departments, although some patients with complex disorders may need admission to hospital. Furthermore, some patients are managed under shared care arrangements with other specialists and general practitioners.
Many patients have long-term conditions, so a significant amount of the rheumatologist’s work involves liaising with multidisciplinary teams and agencies. There is little on-call work, but rheumatologists may participate in the general medical take. Just over 25% of consultants report routine on-call weekend work.