Rheumatology is an exciting specialty that deals with the investigation and management of patients with inflammatory arthritis, autoimmune rheumatic diseases, osteoarthritis, soft tissue rheumatism, chronic pain disorders and metabolic bone diseases. It is a speciality that works closely with the multidisciplinary team (nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, social workers and clinical psychologists), but increasingly innovative therapeutic options are now available, so that rheumatology is at the forefront of use of monoclonal antibodies and other cutting-edge biological pharmaceutical agents. Good knowledge of general medicine is essential, even for pure rheumatology trainees, as most conditions we see can have systemic effects.

This excellent training programme consists of eleven posts, with all new posts dually accrediting, and currently 7 trainees completing single accreditation training. As well as wide-ranging and comprehensive training in pure rheumatology, as part of this rotation in Severn Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) it is possible to obtain training to specialise in areas such as metabolic bone disease, connective tissue disease, teaching, research, community and primary care-based rheumatology, ankylosing spondylitis and adolescent transition medicine. There is an excellent Paediatric Rheumatology Department in Bristol with the opportunity to visit for this sub-specialtyexperience.

We strongly support academic research either during rotation, or as part of full-time ‘Out of Programme Research’. In the last six years, 7 trainees have completed a PhD, and two have completed a MD. One trainee undertook a one year Rheumatology sabbatical in Toronto, Canada in 2012. One has gained an M Sc. All have produced manuscripts published in high impact peer-reviewed international rheumatology journals.

We offer several opportunities to advance the knowledge and clinical acumen of our trainees. All trainees are allocated thirty days of study leave per year, with all applications for leave and requests for funding having been accommodated. Several trainees have completed the ‘Post-Graduate Certificate in Medical Education (PGCME)’. Severn PGME has an established ‘post-graduate management / leadership course’ attended yearly by senior trainees.

Each month all trainees attend a full-day ‘Rheumatology Training Day’ at hospitals in either Severn PGME or south Wales. Presentations and practical workshops are provided by Consultants to ensure all aspects of the 2010 Rheumatology Curriculum are covered and that trainees a prepared for the ‘Rheumatology Speciality Certificate Examination (SCE)’. Joining education days with trainees from Wales has allowed for a broader learning experience, whilst sharing the expertise and knowledge of a nearby deanery.

Trusts in Bristol, Bath, Swindon and Gloucester each have their own established Tuesday afternoon ‘Rheumatology Post-Graduate Education’ timetable and ‘Journal Clubs’. Several times a year ‘regional combined post-graduate meetings’ including CTD, bone disease and sero-negative spondylo arthropathy are organised to combine expertise from these hospitals, with invited national / international guest speakers. Attendance is part of protected education time.

The yearly General Medical Council survey has always returned positive feedback from our Rheumatology trainees. All Severn PGME trainees sitting the Rheumatology SCE so far passed on their first attempt, bar one who passed comfortably on the second attempt. All trainees have been successful on completing their training at attaining substantive / locum Consultant posts, mostly in the local region, with very few taking their grace period.

The South-West is a beautiful and enjoyable part of the U.K. to live during training and for those going on to pursue Consultant careers in the region. Capturing historic cities such as Bath, Cheltenham and Bristol, and beautiful landscapes of the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire and Somerset, there are plenty of opportunities for leisure time and family life at a lower cost-of-living than other parts of the U.K. Transport links to London, Wales, Midlands and the south-coast are excellent. The relative small geographic size of Severn’s region permits proximity between the hospital, aiding commutes.

Contact the Training Programme Director Dr Sara Carty based at The Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,Swindon.