Dr Graeme Wilson, consultant physician in respiratory medicine, and Dr Laura-Jane Smith, ST6 respiratory and general internal medicine, share why they love working as respiratory physicians and what advice they have for getting into respiratory medicine.
Respiratory medicine is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and continuing care of adults of all ages with a wide range of respiratory and related conditions. It is an exciting and diverse specialty, blending a grounding in general medicine with expert respiratory knowledge and interventional skills. It draws together elements of many other specialties including:
Every subspecialty area involves a multidisciplinary team, which may include doctors (including respiratory physicians, oncologists, thoracic surgeons, pathologists and radiologists), specialist nurses, physiologists, physiotherapists, dietitians, smoking cessation advisers and psychologists.
Respiratory physicians have varied roles and deliver care from tertiary centres, acute hospitals, day centres, outpatient clinics, community clinics, and, with the growth of integrated care, the patient’s own home. You will deal with everything from airway emergencies to chronic care of patients over many years. There are research opportunities to work with stem cells and immunotherapy, genomics, pleural procedures, and breathlessness interventions. In addition there are roles in education, training and quality improvement.
If you love a practical challenge you can become an expert in bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound and thoracoscopy.
There is something for every trainee. If you love a practical challenge you can become an expert in bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound and thoracoscopy. If you are excited about imaging and diagnostic challenges you may find satisfaction in interstitial lung disease (ILD) and, for those of you who value connecting with patients and forming long-lasting relationships, you will be well suited to caring for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Respiratory physicians around the UK are working on interesting and innovative projects to improve respiratiory care and services. Some examples of this can be found on the Future Hospital Tell us your story webpage. The RCP Future Hospital Programme is currently also improving respiratory services on two different development sites: Central and South Manchester and Sandwell and West Birmingham.
Five key facts about training in respiratory medicine from the Specialty Advisory Committee (SAC) for Respiratory Medicine:
You can find more information on the training pathway from the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board. Learn more about the recruitment and interview process by visiting the ST3 recruitment page.
There have been many distinguished specialists in respiratory medicine among the RCP fellowship. However, a report produced by the RCP in 1962 might be able to claim more benefit to the country’s lungs than all their individual efforts. You can read more about the respiratory health of the nation on the library, archive and museum blog.