Addiction medicine is the comprehensive care of people with a wide range of addiction disorders, including drug and alcohol addiction and pharmaceutical dependency. Addiction medicine physicians also play an important role in shaping public policy in the areas of health protection, prevention and health promotion for improved public and population health outcomes.
FULL PANEL RECORDING
Addiction medicine is a career that requires:
- Excellent communication skills
- Interaction with patients as well as some non-clinical work
- An interest in medico-legal requirements
- Research skills and knowledge
- Knowledge around psychiatric and psychosocial conditions and the interaction between these and addiction
- Joint management of patients with other clinicians.
One of the challenges of addiction medicine is feeling marginalised. The specialty in WA is currently part of the Mental Health Commission rather than WA Health although this is likely to change in the coming years to being more integrated with WA Health.
The patients themselves can also present challenges, however a depth of experience prior to commencing addiction medicine, such as general practice, can give you the tools needed to overcome these challenges.
One of the positives of this specialty is that it covers a lot of different areas of interest such as social work, psychiatry, medicine, politics and public health.
Another positive is the great work-life balance with most Next Step doctors working “9 to 5” with no standard weekend work. Although there is an ‘on call’ roster, it is not particularly taxing as it’s shared by many doctors.
Who would be suited to addiction medicine?
What are some challenges in addiction medicine?
What is the work-life balance like?
What's good to know prior to training?
Why consider addiction medicine as a career?
Addiction medicine training is a chapter program of the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) training program. You can enter the training after completing RACP Basic Training or after a Fellowship from another medical college. Please refer to the RACP website for further information about the training program.
A pathway that works well for addiction medicine is one with broad experience with some good general resident posts such as medicine, psychiatry and emergency. The fact that the work can be flexible means that you can do rotations in many areas as lots of different area are impacted by substance use disorder. Many trainees have completed their general practice training which is a great way to form that ‘general’ foundation.
The training program is relatively easy to get in to with Next Step providing a very supportive environment and great access to consultants and other senior staff. The training includes access to varying subspecialties such as toxicology, public health, pain clinics and obstetrics.
How long is the training program?
How can you enter the training program?
What is a Chapter program in addiction medicine?
What do you enjoy about addiction medicine?
As a graduate of the training program you will have access to Medicare Item numbers and therefore can work in private practice with one or two located in WA. Most addiction medicine doctors working in the public service will work with Next Step Alcohol and Drug Services although this is likely to expand to the major WA hospitals.
N.B. Career prospects are dependent on both the supply of specialists and the projected future demand for services provided by medical specialists (including general practitioners). The complex interplay of supply and demand is currently being modelled at both a state and national level and will be included when it's available.