Listen to Professor John AH Wass, professor of endocrinology at Oxford University, and Dr Ioannis Spiliotis, clinical research fellow and honorary specialty registrar in diabetes and endocrinology at Oxford University, discuss their specialty and give advice on how to get into it.
Endocrinology and diabetes is one of the most challenging, rewarding and wide-ranging of the medical specialties. As diabetologists our role requires a complex interplay of education, behaviour change and the use of cutting-edge technology. As diabetes is a common long-term condition a career in endocrinology and diabetes will let you build up long-term patient relationships. At times this can be rewarding, such as sharing the joy of a mother with diabetes in the safe delivery of a baby; at other times challenging, such as trying to encourage people into lifestyle changes which they do not necessarily want to follow!
The diversity of the specialty means many consultants sub-specialise. Within diabetes there is the opportunity to sub-specialise in inpatient care, renal disease, vascular problems, genetics, technology (insulin pumps), transplants, HIV – areas in which many physicians are involved in cutting-edge research. Working closely as part of a multidisciplinary team, alongside other hospital specialties and with primary care, is an essential and enjoyable part of the job.
As endocrinologists we treat the dysregulation of hormonal control. When these controls go wrong there can be profound effects on a person’s life. These range from changes in physical appearance and psychological wellbeing, through important functions such as sex and reproduction, to life-threatening emergencies.
As endocrinologists and diabetologists, we are privileged to share the most intimate aspects of our patients’ lives and, by correcting the underlying hormonal issues, relieve their problems.
The introduction of insulin treatment in the 20th century transformed type 1 diabetes from a death sentence to a long-term condition, inspiring some early recipients to dedicate their lives to diabetes care. The absence of effective remedy did not stop physicians in centuries past from diagnosing and attempting to treat diabetes. You can read more historical perspectives on the study and treatment of diabetes on the library, archive and museum blog.