Career Pathway for a UK Doctor in Training

  • April 13, 2020

The NHS offers extensive training schemes and career development for all of its doctors, and such programmes are recognised as a gold standard across the medical world. 

Training in the NHS is always in keeping with advances in medical sciences and the progressive landscape of the medical profession, including the more complex ailments of a growing and ageing population. The NHS frequently updates and develops its training programmes, making them attractive to UK graduates and doctors, as well as overseas doctors seeking the very best training. 

In this article we will cover the following topics: 

Why is it important for IMGs to understand the NHS Training Pathway?

Most IMGs looking to move to the UK will be keen to enter into UK Specialty Training at some point, and as such it is important to understand the UK training pathway from start to finish in order to map your NHS career effectively.

Furthermore, greater understanding of the NHS structure and training offered to doctors in the UK will help an IMG to understand at what grade they can likely enter the system. 

The NHS Training Pathway

The NHS Training Pathway is the term given to the journey from medical school to completion of GP or specialist training and is the path most commonly followed by UK trainees.

From Graduation to Foundation Training

Upon graduation from a medical school, doctors gain provisional registration with the GMC allowing them to enter the Foundation Programme - a two-year work-based training programme.

Upon completion of the first year (FY1) doctors will gain full registration with the GMC and can apply for further study and training in a specialised area – known as Specialty Training.

Specialty Training Programmes

Completion of the Foundation Programme allows doctors to apply for Specialty Training in an area of medicine or general practice. There are 60 different specialties to choose from. 

A doctor entering year one of Specialty Training is known as an ST1 doctor.

Specialty Training programmes can take between three and eight years depending on the specialism chosen. Doctors can pass through the training quicker depending on how fast they achieve their competencies. 

However, rarely do doctors complete the training pathways in the indicated time for a variety of reasons. On average the training takes between 1 - 4 years longer than indicated in the curricula. 

Different types of Specialty Training Programmes

There are a number of different types of Specialty Training programmes, which are different for each specialty. 

Uncoupled Specialty Training Programmes

These programmes split into Core Training and Higher Specialty Training.

Core Training lasts for either two or three years and once complete, allows you to apply for Higher Specialty Training, which can take between 3 – 5 years. 

Overall, Specialty Training programmes can take between 5 – 8 years in their entirety, depending on your medical specialty. 

Doctors will be known as ST1-3 during their Core Training and ST4-6/7/8 level during Higher Specialty Training programmes.

Higher Specialty Training programmes are very competitive, and completion of Core Training does not guarantee a Higher Specialty Training post.  Anchor

It is worth noting that in August 2019 the core medical training programme will be replaced by the Internal Medicine Training Programme, described as ‘a new training model designed to equip doctors with skills and confidence to lead on the care of patients in general ward and acute care settings’.

Run-through Training Programmes

For these training programmes you only have to apply once, at the beginning of the programme, as you are recruited for the full duration of Specialty Training.

They can last from approximately three years for general practice, to five or seven for other specialties.

Completion of Specialty Training Programme

Upon successful completion of either a run-through or coupled training programme doctors are awarded a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

At this point doctors are entered onto the specialist register (or GP Register) and are recognised as a consultant.

Should I apply for a training or service post? 

As above, competition for places on training posts within the NHS is highly competitive. As such for IMGs interested in securing a place on a training post in the NHS, we advise that IMGs obtain a service post for 1 – 2 years. 

Following this contract you can apply for a training post, for which you will be given priority. Not only will this approach give you the best chance of securing excellent training and career progression opportunities in the NHS, it will also give you the chance to settle in to the UK, get to know your trust better, and help you understand the training post that will suit you the most. 

Service posts also offer very competitive rates, so whilst you are getting to know the NHS and settling into life in the UK, you can also ensure that you are financially rewarded. 

As an IMG can I get onto the specialist register?

IMGs that enter the UK training programmes later on and have not completed the full programme can still get on the specialist register via the CESR route (Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration)

Check to see if you're eligible via the GMC website or read through our overview on CESR and eligibility for CESR.

How do I secure work as a trust doctor? With the view to securing a training post at a later date.

You can apply for Trust doctor or service roles online via the NHS Jobs website

However, working with IMG Connect can offer more jobs than are available online with the added benefit of an IMG Consultant speaking directly with services on your behalf to expedite the process and negotiate the best doctor salary for you.

IMG Jobs 

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IMG Resources

Read more useful articles on finding an NHS trust doctor job, pay scales & doctor’s salary in the UK, relocation and much more!  

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Don’t hesitate to get in touch using the buttons above (and below) to discuss doctor job options in the NHS, including discussions regarding a typical doctor salary in the UK and the most suitable hospital locations for you.


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