Doctors in Training – information everyone should know

25th April 2017

Doctors in Training – information everyone should know

So by now I hope you’ve had a chance to read my last blog which described the top reasons for training in genitourinary medicine (GUM): the variety, teamwork, opportunities and not least, fun. So with that in mind, I wanted to use my next blog as a chance to tell you more about the ins and outs of higher specialty training. Don't switch off if you are already a GUM trainee or work within the specialty. This blog contains important information on training for the specialty and how it’s likely to change, so please keep reading!

Enthusiastically supporting registration at the BASHH conference

Core Medical Training

After slogging your way through some fairly gruelling Foundation Years to enter GUM, the next step is undertaking Core Medical Training (CMT). This is great general medicine training and essential to gain basic competencies before specialism. Once CMT is complete you then apply for higher specialty training. But here's the important bit: are you up-to-date with Shape of Training (SoT)?

Shape of Training: changes on the horizon

What is SoT and when does it start? Well, it describes the changes being made to medical, core medical and higher specialty training, and it will impact GUM (and other specialties), so you need to know about it. Firstly, CMT will increase from 2 to 3 years of training. You then enter higher specialty training which is hopefully, of course, GUM! Currently GUM training is just that, GUM only. However, with SoT, trainees will get to dual train in internal medicine too – which is a great opportunity!

Audience members eagerly anticipate a conference speech

SoT changes are on the horizon but are unlikely to start at CMT level until 2018/2019, so the first set of trainees on a dual GUM and internal medicine programme won't start until 2021/2022 at the earliest. For more information on SoT and what it entails check out the Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board website here .

Is SoT important? I think so. This training will provide us with greater general and acute medical experience and far more career opportunities. And in medicine nowadays, we need broad skills. GUM is a medical specialty and we are fundamentally physicians, so internal medicine will only improve our current skills. Do we want to be able to better reduce the cardiovascular risk of a smoking, hypertensive 60 year old man in the context of his HIV and anti-retrovirals? The answer has to be yes and SoT will optimise our ability to provide our patients with holistic care, which is incredibly exciting. Better training and career opportunities for us and importantly, better care for our patients.

Joining the specialty

So, if you are interested in our training, let's talk about the practicalities: once you've successfully got a GUM higher specialty place, you enter a 4 year training programme. Our curriculum has recently been updated and reflects the changing nature of the specialty. More HIV and chronic diseases, less “I'm-never-likely-to-see-that” HIV stuff. The programme is designed to provide basic competencies in sexual health and HIV in the first 2 years, with a more specialist focus towards the end of training.

We do three sets of diplomas, which sounds quite intense but isn't really. Diploma of Genitourinary Medicine by end of ST4, Diploma of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health by ST5 and Diploma of HIV by the end. Along with essential competencies, GUM training also allows time for dermatology, gynaecology and microbiology experience, as well as management and leadership skills. So it really is a complete package.

Conference attendees gathered for the BASHH Gala Dinner in the Oxford Town Hall

One of the most common questions I get asked by junior doctor GUM enthusiasts is what can I do to get a higher specialty GUM job? Well, there are lots of things, starting with simply showing an interest for the work. There’s plenty you can do to help you stand out from the crowd. Get in contact with consultants at your local GUM department and ask to observe clinics or attend a taster day. Why not volunteer to do a project (audit/quality improvement?) within the specialty (you don't need to be working in the department for this). Perhaps write up an interesting case report, or even better, ask the consultant for one they have been meaning to write up themselves, but haven’t yet had the time to do so! You could even submit your work to one of BASHH’s conferences. BASHH is a really dynamic society with lots to offer, so take a look at the website and make the most of the many opportunities available.

GUM really is a fantastic specialty. We are very keen to chat to you if you want to know more, so please get in contact @bashh_trainees or

And finally, what blog would be complete without a list of useful resources:

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