Health Service Categories and Careers


Rheumatology is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosis and holistic management of people with diseases that affect joints, muscles, and bones, including multi-system and autoimmune conditions. Rheumatic disorders include forms of arthritis, autoimmune connective tissue disease, spinal and soft tissue disorders and some metabolic bone disorders, such as osteoporosis and chronic musculoskeletal pain. Clinical practice involves pain management, reduction of inflammation, and preservation of musculoskeletal function. Rheumatology is practiced in a variety of settings, including private practices, public hospitals or in conjunction with research and academia, with a focus on outpatient care and treatment. Rheumatology expertise is relevant to the clinical practice areas of general medicine, nuclear medicine, aged care, or sports medicine. As a field, rheumatology engages in research and investigational opportunities, and plays an important role in the context of a rapidly ageing population with increased rheumatic disease prevalence and a growing demand for specialist rheumatology services. Due to the nature of rheumatic diseases, such as chronic arthritis, and their impact on patients’ lives, including their ability to work and participate in wider social/community activities, rheumatology practice involves early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of inflammation to help prevent long-term pain and disability. Rheumatology utilises clinical examination, particular laboratory-based tests, and imaging techniques, to help guide an accurate diagnosis. Treatments include a range of conventional disease modifying medicines, such as anti-metabolites, ‘biological’ agents, steroids and coordination of physiotherapy and other therapies. Rheumatology can be studied as a subspecialty of Internal Medicine, or as a subspecialty of Paediatrics and Child Health which focusses on paediatric conditions and management of the paediatric patient.

Rheumatology Jobs

Rheumatologists treat diseases that affect joints, muscles, and bones such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases and musculoskeletal conditions, which are collectively known as rheumatic diseases. They treat many forms of arthritis, gout, joint and general pain disorders like fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists undertake assessments and investigations, including a range of “screening” laboratory tests such as blood count, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides, or renal function testing, as well as medical imaging. These investigations help the Rheumatologist understand the type and extent of disease, to make an accurate diagnosis, and create an appropriate management plan. Treatment options include surgery, medications and physical therapy, within a holistic, psychosocial and integrated approach to patient care. Rheumatologists often build long-term relationships with their patients due to the chronic nature of rheumatic disease. To pursue a career as a Rheumatologist, registered doctors who have completed RACP Basic Training in Adult Internal Medicine, can apply to undertake Advanced Training in Rheumatology, a 3-year RACP program which leads to Fellowship and Specialist registration with AHPRA.

Registrars (Rheumatology) 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 rheumatology can undertake advanced training with RACP. They work under rheumatologists/specialist consultants and develop procedural skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in this field of medicine.