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Specialty spotlight – genitourinary medicine

Hear experts Dr Elizabeth Carlin, consultant in genitourinary medicine (GUM), Nottinghamshire, and Dr Anna Hartley, ST5 in genitourinary medicine, London, discuss their specialty. Their discussion gives insights into what makes GUM interesting, what the training pathway involves, and how to succeed in the specialty.

Introduction to genitourinary medicine

Genitourinary medicine (GUM) is the medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis and management of sexually transmitted infections, genital infections and conditions, as well as the complications of infection. It includes the detection of HIV infection as well as the care and management of people living with HIV.

The speciality has a wide diversity as we practise everything from preventative to acute medicine, and encompasses areas such as safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, sexual assault, sexual dysfunction, contraception, public health, genital dermatology and much more.

Health promotion and partner notification underpin the speciality and in recent years there has been increased integration with contraception provision to provide more holistic sexual healthcare. Although mainly an outpatient speciality, we also care for HIV inpatients, who may be acutely unwell with opportunistic infections. Our patient cohort is broad and often vulnerable, which is where the impact of sexual ill health is greatest.

To undertake genitourinary medicine you will need to be able to discuss personal issues with individuals sensitively, as well as assess whether there are safeguarding risks, so good communication skills are essential. There is also a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary team working with close liaison with allied health professionals and there is a high profile and importance placed on providing education and training for other healthcare professionals, and education for the public.

GUM is a forward-thinking and rapidly advancing area of medicine. There are many opportunities to get involved in research, to teach and train, facilitate service development as well as to participate in outreach work. Every day is different, interesting and exciting.

Training and working in genitourinary medicine

Genitourinary medicine resources

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) 

RCP resources 

Historical highlights from the library, archive and museum collections

In February 2013, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) donated 42 books to the RCP Library. Read more about the books in Live chastely and avoid incontinence on the RCP library, archive and museum blog.