Attractions of the West Midlands

The region

The West Midlands ranges from Staffordshire in the north to Warwickshire and Herefordshire in the south. In between these areas lie the cities of Birmingham and Coventry and the towns of the Black Country.


Advantages of living and working in the West Midlands

  • Diverse populations: the West Midlands is a region of contrasts with urban and rural areas facing different challenges. The urban areas in the West Midlands are densely populated and have a younger age profile with a higher proportion of young people under 16 than in any other region in England. Rural populations are typically older. The West Midlands has the largest non-white population outside  London and has large numbers of asylum seekers and refugees. All of these factors contribute to diverse clinical presentations in mixed populations, ensuring that trainees will see a wide spectrum of clinical disease and gain a huge amount of experience in working with varied patient groups with different needs.
  • Well-located in the heart of England.
  • Hugely accessible: good travel links to other cities. The West Midlands is atthe centre of the national rail and road network making it easy to reach other parts of the county in two hours. There is also an international airport.
  • Plenty of open space: Birmingham has more parks than any other European city.
  • Many areas of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Developing cultural and creative industry.
  • Lively night-life in the city centres.
  • Large city centre shopping malls.

 The GUM West Midlands Training Programme

 The Training Programme

  •  Duration: The GUM training programme is four years long.
  • The regional GU Medicine training centres: There are currently nine training posts in the region. Each trainee is based at one of the main training centres in Birmingham (Whittall Street Clinic, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Heartlands Hospital) for at least two of the four years. The remaining 1-2 years are spent at one of the other training centres (Coventry, Wolverhampton or Stoke).
  • Content of the programme: Consistent with the training curriculum, in the first two years of training, trainees usually participate in 5-7 weekly GUM clinics and one HIV clinic to gain experience in the basics of GU and HIV medicine. During the last two years of training there is more focus on HIV medicine and more specialised GUM clinics and trainees often work in fewer weekly clinics so that they can focus on their research projects.  Trainees are also expected to complete a block of inpatient HIV care for at least six months, although how this is provided will vary according to the training centre you are working in. During the four years, trainees are expected to obtain a number of certificates; Diploma in GU Medicine, Diploma for the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Diploma in HIV Medicine. They are also expected to gain competencies in insertion and removal of long-acting reversible forms of contraception. These skills can be gained at the local contraception clinics. Throughout the training programme, presentation at regional and national meetings, through poster and oral media, is encouraged. There are many opportunities to teach undergraduates, postgraduates and peers. 
  • Regional Training Programme: Trainees are expected to attend and contribute towards the monthly regional training programme for GU Medicine, which rotates between all of the centres. The regional training closely adheres to the 2014 GU Medicine curriculum. 
  • Mandatory examinations, qualifications and courses: 
    • Examinations: The diploma in GU Medicine examination is usually taken in the second year (ST4) and the diploma in HIV examination, which equates to an exit exam, should be taken during the fourth year (ST6) of the programme. Please click on the Society of Apothecaries link for further details.
    • Contraception qualifications: The diploma of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare is mandatory and consists of online and practical training. Trainees are also expected to gain the letters of competence for insertion and removal of long-acting reversible contraception. Please click on the FSRH link for further details.
    • Courses: There are several mandatory courses that are laid out on the JRCPTB GUM curriculum. Please click on the JRCPTB link for further details.
  • On call: Trainees are expected to participate in the on-call rota at their main centre of training. The on-call may be purely for HIV inpatient care and GUM advice, or general infectious disease, depending on the centre. The frequency of on-call varies between centres but is typically approximately 1:5. There is no resident night-duty at any of the training centres but trainees may be called in the night for advice.
  • Career development opportunities: Many opportunities are available and it is widely encouraged for trainees to participate in the following:
    • Teaching: regular and frequent teaching of medical students, GP and other specialty trainees, nurses and postgraduate doctors
    • Research: HIV is a fast-moving field in research and there is always new knowledge to keep up-to-date with
    • Audit: all trainees are expected to regularly engage in audit
    • International, national and regional conferences: attendance at and participation in oral presentations, case presentations and poster presentations
    • Trainee representative roles – regional and national level, to develop leadership skills and gain experience working on committees. 

A typical week in the life of GUM specialist trainee

A typical week in years 1-2 comprises:

GUM clinics: 5-7
HIV clinic: 1
HIV multidisciplinary team meeting: discussion of inpatients, HIV resistance cases and complicated out-patient cases
Departmental meeting/teaching: 1
CPD session: 2
On call: 1-2 (9am-9pm, non-residential)


Supervision, Appraisal and Assessment

 Educational supervisor: Each trainee has an educational supervisor at each of their training centres, whom they meet at least quarterly.

 ARCP: Trainees will have an ARCP at least annually (depending on individual requirements). Assessment of competencies will include annual review of the regular workplace-based assessments (mini-clinical evaluation exercise (mini-CEX), case-based discussion (CbD) and multi-source feedback (MSF)) that all trainees engage in throughout their training.