Health Service Categories and Careers


Respiratory and Sleep Medicine is concerned with diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases, infections and disorders that affect the respiratory system and sleep. It is a subspecialty of Internal Medicine which studies the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system, which includes the nose, nasal passages, sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea (windpipe), lungs, chest wall, and diaphragm. Respiratory conditions include asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic cough, bronchitis, and pneumonia, among others. These can be acute or chronic conditions which can cause pain and inflammation, restrict airflow, affect blood circulation through the lungs, and impact on sleep and quality of life. Respiratory and Sleep Medicine services provide specialist acute care and outpatient consultations in hospitals and private clinics. Diagnostic laboratory testing of lung function, medical imaging, and sleep polysomnography, helps to identify respiratory and sleep disorders and lung damage. Specialists coordinate a range of treatments to manage symptoms, prevent further disease, and improve a patient’s quality of life. These range from medications and non-invasive therapies to surgical procedures or emergency ventilation. This area of medicine demands further clinical research and development of techniques and procedures which respond to the growing prevalence of respiratory illness and infectious disease within the community and population.

Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Jobs

Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physicians specialise in diagnosing and treating respiratory disorders such as Cystic fibrosis, emphysema, lung disease, pneumonia, pulmonary vascular disorders, hypertension, sleep apnoea and tuberculosis. They undertake a variety of diagnostic investigations, such as lung function testing, pleural ultrasound, and polysomnography observation. These physicians work in multidisciplinary teams, have a range of procedural skills and a broad understanding of internal medicine. They provide clinical management of patients with acute conditions or in end-of-life care. They create integrated health care plans for patients with chronic or genetic respiratory conditions, and can prescribe a range pharmaceutical, therapeutic or surgical treatments to improve their quality of life and sleep. These specialists have undertaken Advanced Training in Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Medicine, which is a 3-year RACP program leading to Fellowship and Specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia (Ahpra). At this level, Doctors provide clinical leadership, oversee patient care, train registrars, and participate in education, research, and other professional development activities.

Registrars (Respiratory and Sleep Medicine) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. They work in a range of primary, secondary, tertiary, clinical, laboratory and acute care settings, in hospitals, private practices and community clinics. Registrars who want to pursue a career in respiratory and sleep medicine can undertake advanced training with RACP. They work under respiratory and sleep medicine physicians and develop procedural skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in this field of medicine.