Acute medicine refers to the immediate and early management of adults in hospital who require urgent or emergency care. Although it is closely linked to emergency medicine and critical care, it is firmly rooted in the principles of general internal medicine.

Consultants work primarily in the acute medical unit of a hospital, but may also lend support in A&E. They review patients who have been admitted, and make the decisions on their care pathway - which specialist they should be referred to, or whether they can be discharged. Conditions commonly encountered in this setting include ischaemic heart disease, venous thromboembolism, diabetic complications, cerebrovascular disease, exacerbations of chronic respiratory disease, acute infections and sepsis, complications of drug and alcohol misuse, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Acute medicine has recently been reinstated as a specialty in its own right, having previously been included as part of general internal medicine. Because consultants assess patients with a wide variety conditions, interactions with any number of other specialties are possible. Specialists also work with other medical professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

Bursaries available

The RCP offers bursaries each year for SpR/ST3-7 trainees to attend the European School of Internal medicine run by European Federation of Internal Medicine. This takes place twice a year in two different European countries.

How to apply

Please see advertisements in the RCP press for places. Please send these to You can be a specialist trainee in GIM (dual accrediting) or acute medicine.

Related resource

RCP publications

Specialty training

For information about specialty training in acute medicine, please visit the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Postgraduate Training Board (JRCPTB) website.

Specialist society

2011 Consultant Census

The RCP has completed our census of working physicians in 2011. Attached below is a breakdown of the report with results for this specialty.

Patient information