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Why Choose GUM?

Being a GUM physician is a hugely fulfilling career. A recent survey asked GUM physicians what they most enjoy about their jobs – 69% answered that it is the opportunity the speciality provides to make a real difference to patients’ lives.

The future of GUM is exciting, rapidly evolving, and ambitious at its core.

  • The HIV transmission, management and treatment landscape has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. This presents the sexual health workforce with new challenges to support people growing old with HIV. Meanwhile, the government has committed to end new HIV transmissions, AIDS diagnoses, and HIV-related deaths in England by 2030. The delivery of the HIV Action Plan is crucial in this effort, ensuring no communities are left behind.
  • At a time when sexual transmitted infections are increasing considerably, it is an exciting and important time to work in sexual health. Levels of gonorrhoea in England are now at the highest ever level since data records began in 1918, the year World War One ended. New diagnoses of syphilis meanwhile are at levels not seen since 1948. The sexual health workforce, including GUM clinicians, are at the forefront of managing this and safeguarding the sexual health of our nation.
  • The specialty’s response to the LGV (lymphogranuloma venereum) and mpox outbreaks respectively serve as prime examples of the remarkable agility, expertise and professionalism at GUM’s core. The sexual health workforce is responsive and adaptive to evolving STIs and STI epidemiology, working to support frontline public health challenges.
  • Inappropriate STI testing and treatment is likely to drive antibiotic resistance in STIs and other organisms, which poses a major and growing public health threat. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents another increasingly important element of GUM, which will likely see important change over the coming years.


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GUM is...

meaningful and rewarding

The impact that a single sexual health consultation can have on patients’ mental and physical health is significant and can be long-lasting.

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Sexual health affects the whole population. This means that GUM clinicians contribute to general public and population health and interact with a variety of patients who have an extensive range of sexual health experiences.

“GUM is one of the only specialties where you can see someone, diagnose them and treat them on the same day. People come in petrified and upset and they leave happy… or at least happier.”

GUM specialists have the privilege of sensitive conversations with people, asking holistically about their lives and intimate experiences.

“Sex, relationships and by extension sexual health touch on all aspects of people's lives, so it is truly a privilege to work in GUM, as well as creating a safe niche in healthcare to support some very marginalised sexual minorities.”

GUM clinicians deliver care to vulnerable and otherwise under-served communities, for instance sex-workers, people who inject drugs, young people, and others in need of safeguarding.

GUM enables long-term engagement with patients, over significant life changes and into old age.

“You have the opportunity to look after some patients for life. I’ve got some HIV patients I’ve had for 22 years – there are very few areas of medicine where you have the opportunity to grow old with your patients.”

GUM is...

varied and holistic

The variation in GUM enables people to shape the consultant they want to be.

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The potential breadth and depth of opportunities open to people specialised in GUM are vast. Opportunities span public health, outpatient and inpatient care, primary, secondary and tertiary care, as well as research and academia. It also has links with infectious diseases, gynaecology, dermatology, and other key areas of medicine.

“People don’t know that GUM is so integrated and don’t realise that HIV, women’s health, contraception and public health are baked into it.”

GUM offers longer term engagement with patients with chronic sexual health conditions and with people living with HIV (PLWH). The latter is reflected in the ageing cohort of PLWH where comorbidity, pill burden and frailty are being increasingly recognised due to the effectiveness of combination antiretroviral therapy.

Sexual health has an impact on patient’s holistic health, including physical and mental well-being.

With a grounding in GIM and a specialism in GUM, dual accreditation generates skilled physicians who are able to provide comprehensive management and care. More information about the GUM training pathway is available here.

GUM is...

a specialty known for its autonomous, fun, and collaborative culture

The culture in GUM is passionate and supportive.

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GUM has an attractive work-life balance, with less anti-social hours and on-call shifts than other medical specialties, while remaining stimulating and rewarding.

82% of post-specialty respondents of a 2023 survey said they most enjoyed the good work-life balance that the specialty offers.

“GUM is a bizarre little happy corner of the NHS where people actually really love their job, and they turn up in a good mood and they want to do well.”

Consultants care about their trainees, colleagues, and patients.

“As a trainee, you feel like a human compared to a number.”

GUM clinicians tend to have increased autonomy to shape the delivery of care and have local decision-making power.

Dual accreditation encourages collaboration and open working with colleagues in other medical specialties. Click here to read an interview published in the BMJ Journals with two dually trained and accredited consultants in Genitourinary and General Internal Medicine (GUM/GIM).


What GUM trainees said...


If I was to do this over, I would definitely still choose GUM.

LoveGUM – yes I do! I feel very fortunate to work in a speciality that over ten years from starting, I (still) find... Read more

Breaking Barriers with GUM: Pioneering Fertility Rights for People with HIV in the UK

There are opportunities GUM has given me that I couldn’t possibly have expected when I started my training or, indeed,... Read more

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... Read more