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Why did I become a rheumatologist?

Why did I become a rheumatologist?

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In the last week, I've actually been asked twice as to why I picked rheumatology as a specialty. Rheumatology has a low profile and most people I meet have no real idea as to what it involves.

I was a basic physician trainee at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney in 1999 & 2000, when I was trying to decide on my specialty. I was considering cardiology but decided I did not like the vibe and the humans in that department.

In no particular order, the reasons I decided to train as a rheumatologist were:

  • I rotated into a term in the rheumatology department and found I liked the patients a lot, and I liked the fact that good, long-term relationships could be formed.
  • Most rheumatologists seemed friendly and superficially at least, collegiate and non-competitive.
  • I decided I had enough of hospital bureaucracy & wanted a specialty that was outpatient-based.
  • Being a lazy gen-X'er, I decided I did not want on-call work & wanted a specialty allowing better work-life integration.
  • Most non-rheumatologists know so little about rheumatic disease that it’s relatively easy to be an “expect” in this discipline.
  • It was clear that new “tech” was coming to rheumatology that would change things in a big way so the timing was good. In my 1st year as a consultant in 2004, we were given access to PBS-subsidised biologics.

It’s been a great decision for me. I love what I do and it has provided a clear purpose, for myself and BJC Health.

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