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Information for current trainees

If you've already decided you want a career in rheumatology, here's where you can find out more about what you need to do next.

Preparing for appraisal

Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) is the formal method by which a trainee's progression through their training programme is monitored and recorded.

For more information, look at the Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board.

Specialty Training Curriculum

  • Rheumatology Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board, August 2010

  • General Internal Medicine  Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board, August 2009

  • Physician Academic Checklist  Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board

ARCP Specialty Decision Aids

Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE):

The SCE examination is a compulsory of assessment for Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). It takes place annually in June in multiple centres. The Decision Aid states this exam should be attempted by the end of ST5. For more information please visit the MRCP website.

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Thinking of doing research? There are multiple ways that you can get some research onto your CV:

  • Clinical trials alongside usual clinical work (in programme)

  • Sub-investigator for multi-centre pharmaceutical trial

  • Co-investigator for local study

  • Devising your own study

Ethical approval will be needed for all studies defined as research and this can be a daunting minefield for the inexperienced researcher. Determining whether or not your study is counted as research, suggestions on how to plan your research study and requirements for ethical approval can be found at the HRA website

Pros and cons

Whether or not undertaking a period of research is right for you really depends on your individual career plans and goals and it may be helpful to consider the following when making your decision:

Do I need to?

Will research experience will be helpful or necessary in getting you the job you want? Talk to your seniors and find out about the job market. Having research experience may open the door to a wider variety of job opportunities. It is not all about high impact publications; a period of research gives you a wide range of transferable skills.

Would I enjoy it?

‘Research’ is a very broad church, and just because you did not enjoy your BSc doing cell culture in a lab, does not mean that you would not enjoy an epidemiological study. Aside from the actual work, the benefits and stresses/strains of an academic job are very different to those of a clinical job. E.g. you perhaps have greater autonomy to decide what to do each day, but that comes with responsibility (and if you go on holiday, you cannot ‘hand over’ in the same way!)

Timing and length of training

Consider your family and other commitments which your career has to dovetail with, and bear in mind that the academic career path can involve applications at slightly different stages to the clinical path, and academic jobs can continue for longer periods in the same institutions.

You may need to complete your clinical training within a shorter space of time (e.g. if you are on an ACF with protected research time), or you may take longer (e.g. if you undertake a PhD out of programme and decide not to count your years towards your clinical training).

There is no ‘right’ time in your career to do research. Many factors play a role, not least a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time. Undertaking research can also have financial implications, either through loss of banding or delayed progression.

How do I start?

Talk to as many people as you can about your intentions and keep your ears open for opportunities. Bear in mind that the best opportunities may stem from agreeing to help with a ‘little’ project, so say ‘yes’ whenever you can!

Getting involved with multiple small projects will also help you to decide what aspects of research you enjoy the most, and help to boost your CV for when your perfect opportunity arises. Not all projects work out, and publications can take a long time to come through, so casting your net wide can be advantageous.

Eventually you will need to get funding if you want to pursue a PhD/MD, but don’t let this put you off. Applying for a personal fellowship is a lot of hard work, but there are other ways to get the money you need, and once you have your foot through the door, if you have a good project, your seniors will help you to navigate the system.

For details of how to arrange ‘out of programme’ research experience, check the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board's Out of Programme (OOP) experiences, including Out of Programme for Research (OOPR).

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Types of research degree

Research Fellow: Out of Programme for Research (OOPR)

Usually for one year. They can be advertised for a pre-specified research study/interest, or they can be arranged locally following a research idea from an interested registrar.

MD (Doctor of Medicine)

Arranged locally in conjunction with a university. Timescales vary dependent on university and personal requirements (e.g. 1 year full time; 2 years part time; 5 years alongside usual clinical work). Thesis based on several pieces of linked research. Will require funding for salary and tuition fees   


Three year research programme. Gaining funding is a complex and long process, but will usually involve applying for fellowships from organisations, such as Versus Arthritis, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and National Institute for Health Research

Post-CCT Fellowship

One year of research to develop a sub-specialty interest following completion of your registrar training

Audit/QI projects

As part of the curriculum (both rheumatology and GIM), you will be required to take part or lead an audit or quality improvement project.

To get the best out of it, and make it as useful a process as possible for both you and your unit have a good think about what you want to do and why, rather than using it as a tick box experience.

You may even get a poster or presentation out of it! The links below will direct you to established audit tools and information: