What they do
Thoracic medicine specialists diagnose and manage disorders and diseases of the respiratory system. They assess and treat acute and chronic problems of the respiratory system that affect the lungs, the upper airway and the chest wall.
Thoracic medicine specialists may take care of many different conditions, including lung cancer, pneumonia, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos), asthma, as well as congenital disorders such as cystic fibrosis. They may also treat tuberculosis and other respiratory infectious diseases.
Thoracic medicine specialists may work for the public hospital system, their own private consultation practice, or a mixture of both. They may also supervise and teach medical students and registrars. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.
Tools and technologies
Thoracic medicine specialists use machines such as spirometers to measure lung function, blood gas analysis machines, and bronchoscopes to view and evaluate the respiratory system. They also use X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, pulmonary angiography, and chest fluoroscopy to assess and diagnose respiratory disorders and diseases.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a thoracic medicine specialist, you need to first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in thoracic medicine.
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 thoracic medicine, doctors must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to complete the Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Medicine 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 thoracic medicine specialist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.