What they do

A rheumatologist is a specialist physician who diagnoses and treats diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Common rheumatic diseases include arthritis, tendonitis and osteoporosis. Rarer diseases include lupus, myositis and scleroderma.

There are over 100 types of rheumatic diseases, some of these are very serious and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

There are approximately 22 rheumatologists practising in Western Australia, all of who are based in the metropolitan area.

Working conditions

Rheumatologists usually work regular office hours with occasional longer hours including evening and weekend work.

A typical day involves seeing outpatients and spending time doing paperwork. The role can be emotionally demanding yet rewarding.

Rheumatology is an opportunity to practise clinical medicine in its broadest sense however it can sometimes be regarded as having a low profile compared to cardiology and oncology.

Tools and technologies

Rheumatologists should be competent in the use of a number of tools and technologies including:

  • radiographs
  • nuclear medicine
  • ultrasound
  • CT scanning
  • MRI
  • biopsy
  • electrophysiological testing

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a rheumatologist, you need to first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in rheumatology.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in rheumatology, doctors must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to complete the Rheumatology Training Program and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a rheumatologist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.