How to get the most out of a non-core year

3 minute read

A non-core year can allow trainees the flexibility to drive their own training.

There are varying schools of thought behind the current physician advanced training environment in Australia, with some states offering two years of core training with a third non-core year, and others having a complete three-year core training program. 

This is not unique to rheumatology, with other subspeciality advanced training programs also having a non-core year. While this article is not specific to the pros and cons behind a non-core year, the ARA Early Career Group (ECG) have been working with various ECG members and heads of departments around the country to collate non-core training opportunities, helping trainees decide how to reach the best outcomes for their non-core training year.

A non-core year can be an extremely rewarding year for a trainee. It allows trainees the flexibility to drive their own training, explore areas of interest and seek out opportunities traditionally not available through core training. 

On the flipside, finding the non-core opportunity best suited for the candidate can cause some level of anxiety and stress. 

COVID-19 has also made this decision somewhat more complex, with difficulties securing visas and travel restrictions which are likely to continue at least partway through 2021, but with potential implications for years ahead.  

The ARA ECG has compiled a Rheumatology Non-Core Training Resource to assist trainees in making informed decisions about non-core training. It compiles a list of opportunities across Australia and internationally, and shares anecdotes from previous trainees to highlight their experiences through non-core training. 

Below are a series of options highlighted throughout the guide.

Dual training

 Dual training can expand the clinical skill set of a clinician, allowing trainees to combine various areas of expertise that complement each specialty. Various dual training opportunities are accredited by the college and usually extend training time by only one to two years.

Clinical fellowships in Australia

There are several opportunities listed in the resource guide based on state/territory availabilities, with contact details and basic information about various clinical fellowships available across the country.

International fellowships  

The guide further expands on international fellowships that have been very rewarding for previous trainees from Australia, and expands on some anecdotal experiences by providing insights into organising an international fellowships and factors to consider including scholarships and renumeration.

Higher research degrees

The resource discusses the many various ways trainees can expand their research portfolio in the non-core year by undertaking a research fellowship or taking on a higher degree. It includes the processes for applying for grants and other considerations needed, and a timeline for applying to and completing higher degrees.

While this resource is not an exhaustive list of all the opportunities for third-year non-core rheumatology training, the ARA ECG hopes that it will assist trainees in making a considered decision based upon their own personal and professional needs and circumstances. 

The resource will be published as a live document and widely available soon on the ARA website, and shall be updated as further information is collated. If you know of any non-core opportunities, locally or internationally, please contact us at:

Dr Hashim Abdeen is a rheumatology trainee at Gold Coast Hospital & Health Service and an ARA ECG steering committee member

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