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There are so many things about GUM that I love, it’s difficult to know where to start...

I am a GUM Consultant (of 13 years) working in Leeds and I absolutely love my job. There are so many things about GUM that I love, it’s difficult to know where to start and I know that I won’t be able to cover it all but here are my top three reasons:

  1. I love the patients I serve, the people that I work with every day and the wider GUM community. GUM is a really friendly, stimulating, rewarding, dynamic, inclusive and supportive specialty – so if that’s the kind of career and colleagues you’re looking for then look no further! From my personal experience I don’t think that there are many / possibly any other specialities that are as accepting and non-judgemental towards patients and colleagues as GUM.
  2. The mix between being involved in HIV (a chronic condition), other more acute STI care and ‘simple’ vs more ‘complex’ STI management ensures that every day in GUM is different and exciting.
  3. There are so many opportunities to get involved in a variety of things during your career for both trainees and consultants e.g. teaching & training, audit/QI, research, public health, development of a special interest, national committees etc.

Career Highlights

Moving on and linking in with that last reason around variety, here are a few of my personal career highlights to date… in no particular order:

  1. Research: My research highlight to date is being part of a research project in Leeds, as a GUM trainee, which demonstrated that self-taken vulvo-vaginal swabs were more effective than clinician-taken cervical swabs for picking up chlamydia and gonorrhoea infection.1,2 As a result of our research findings, clinical practice changed for the better for patients both nationally and internationally.
  2. Postgraduate training: Having been a trainee representative on the GUM Specialist Advisory Committee (SAC), I am currently co-Training Programme Director for Yorkshire and Humber and co-Chair of the SAC. Being involved in GUM training is really rewarding.
  3. Clinical Lead: I am currently Clinical Lead for our large HIV unit (cohort ~2500). As Clinical Lead, I work with our multi-disciplinary team to ensure that we offer the best patient care possible across all three of our clinic sites. Leading a team to enhance patient care is such a privilege.
  4. Cross-sector working: Leeds finally became a Fast Track City in February 2023 after several years of working towards that goal. I am honoured to be the first and current Chair of the Leeds Fast Track Cities project.
  5. National clinical roles: For several years I have and continue to work with NHSE in relation to national HIV care as an HIV Clinical Reference Group clinical member and on other working party groups. Being involved with decisions about national HIV treatment and care is both challenging and stimulating.
  6. Special interests: Alongside HIV, genital dermatology is my other area of specialist interest. I have established a genital skin clinic within our local sexual health service, developed close local links with dermatology, gynaecology, urology etc. and I am currently a member of the national BASHH Sexual Health Dermatology Special Interest Group.

When I applied to GUM training, I had no idea how interesting and rewarding my career would be. GUM has provided me with so many exciting opportunities already and it just keeps giving because in GUM we all work collaboratively together. I have only managed to do all of the above and more because of the fantastic support I receive on a daily basis from my GUM colleagues both locally and nationally, so a huge thank you to all of them.

1.    Schoeman SA, Stewart CM, Booth RA, Smith SD, Wilcox MH, Wilson JD. Assessment of best single sample for finding chlamydia in women with and without symptoms: a diagnostic test study. BMJ. 2012;345:e8013. Published 2012 Dec 12. doi:10.1136/bmj.e8013.
2.    Stewart CM, Schoeman SA, Booth RA, Smith SD, Wilcox MH, Wilson JD. Assessment of self taken swabs versus clinician taken swab cultures for diagnosing gonorrhoea in women: single centre, diagnostic accuracy study. BMJ. 2012;345:e8107. Published 2012 Dec 12. doi:10.1136/bmj.e8107.