UK Doctors’ Titles Explained 

  • January 30, 2023
 

Getting to grips with the different titles given to doctors in the UK can be difficult, not least because they may differ from those used in other countries and there may be several titles to describe a certain role. 

It is important for overseas doctors to have a working knowledge of the different doctor titles in the UK in order to understand how their experience may translate to the UK in terms of seniority of roles as well as the pay they may be entitled to. 

In this blog we will be breaking down all the different names given to UK doctors (both in and out of training), clarifying the meaning of these terms to paint a clearer picture of designations in the NHS. 

We will cover these titles within the following groups: 

Doctors in Training

Doctors in GMC-approved training programmes have designations according to the period and specific year of their training – generally the abbreviation of the training, followed by a number. 

Foundation Training

Other Titles / Designations: F1, F2, FY1, FY2, F3+, SHO, Junior Doctor, Trainee 

These are doctors in a Foundation Programme, having graduated from medical school. In the UK, this is a 2-year programme equivalent to an internship.  

During Year 1 of Foundation Training, doctors are referred to as F1/ FY1 and during Year 2, they are F2/ FY2. 

Although Foundation Training lasts two years, doctors who may be unsure of which specialty to pursue may work in non-training jobs before applying to a training post. The naming structure for these roles is the same, depending on the years in their role. 

Core Training

Other Titles / Designations: CT1, CT2, CT3, ST1, ST2, ST3, SHO, Junior Doctor, Trainee 

These are doctors in Core Training who are at the initial stage of an ‘uncoupled’ training programme. An uncoupled training programme is one in which there is a break in training where doctors are required to apply to higher specialty training upon completion of core training. Core training usually lasts from two to three years. 

For ‘run-through’ training programmes, doctors at ST1 would have come from Foundation Training and have automatic entry into higher specialty training through their initial application to ST1. 

Specialty Training

Other Titles / Designations: ST3+, StR, SHO, Junior Doctor, Trainee 

Higher specialty training generally begins at ST3/ ST4 and can go up to ST9 depending on the specialty. 

The curriculum for each specialty will provide the typical training period, however this is indicative (doctors may take longer than this to complete their specialty training for any number of reasons). 

SHO

The term SHO stands for Senior House Officer, less commonly known as a House Officer. This is an older term for a very junior doctor, typically equivalent to an F1/ F2, although the term can be used to describe doctors up to CT2 (up to higher specialty training). 

Trainee

The term trainee can refer to any doctor in a training programme (generally from CT1 to ST9). These doctors may be referred to as residents in other countries. This can but does not generally include doctors in Foundation Training. 

Doctors in non-Training Jobs

Doctors in non-training positions are often given titles which align with their training counterparts, so it’s easier to understand at what level they are practising, but there are no hard and fast rules. 

SHO

Other Titles / Designations: Junior Clinical Fellow, Junior Doctor, Middle Grade 

As with doctors in training, a non-training SHO would typically be equivalent to an F1/ F2, but it may be more common for a doctor not in training to have this title since an equivalent doctor in training would most likely be referred to as an F1/ F2. 

Senior Clinical Fellow

Other Titles / Designations: Junior Doctor

This is a slightly confusing term which is usually for doctors at ST3+ level and generally have not completed a UK training programme. The role of these doctors often includes a combination of research and specialist clinical work. 

SAS Doctor

Other Titles / Designations: Senior Doctor, Specialist 

SAS stands for Staff grade, Associate Specialist, and Specialty Doctor. These doctors will have at least four years of full-time postgraduate training, two of which have been in their relevant specialty. 

They are experienced and senior doctors in fixed term or permanent posts (outside a UK training programme) and can work across primary, community and inpatient care. 

Many SAS doctors have made a positive choice to step into a SAS position from a traditional consultant training pathway. This could be for reasons such as geographical stability or wanting to familiarise themselves with the NHS system before working up to a consultant position.

Broader Terms

There are also several terms which may more broadly be used to describe a doctor's level. 

Junior Doctor

This term can be used to describe anyone from F1 up to ST9These are qualified doctors in clinical training. 

Registrar

Other Titles / Designations: SpR, Junior Doctor, Middle Grade 

This is another slightly older term. Registrar or SpR (Specialty Registrars) refers to the main training grade where doctors are undertaking higher specialty training (this is the earliest you can specialise).  

It can refer to both trainees and non-trainees and is generally equivalent to ST3 and above (doctors who have completed their foundation training but are still in training in a specialty area of medicine). This term is therefore commonly used to describe more senior trainees and generally aligns with its use overseas. 

Senior Doctor

Other Titles / Designations: Specialist Grade, Specialty Doctor, Associate Specialist, GP, Consultant 

As ‘junior doctor’ and ‘senior doctor’ are indicative of whether or not a doctor is in training, senior doctors are those able to practise independently – those working as a consultant, SAS doctor or GP. 

Consultant

Other Titles / Designations: Senior Doctor 

Consultants are senior doctors that have completed full medical training in a specialised area of medicine. They usually work in hospitals or community settings. They have clinical responsibilities and administrative responsibilities in managing SAS and junior doctors. 

There are two types of consultants: 

Substantive - These are consultant who have been appointed to the Specialist Register for their area of medicine by the GMC. These doctors will either have completed a GMC-approved training programme (CCT) or completed an application for CESR or CESR-CP. You can learn more about Specialist Registration for overseas doctors here

Locum - These are consultants who are appointed into an equivalent consultant post but are not required to be on the Specialist Register. Locum consultants are unable to take up a permanent position (only fixed term). A locum consultant’s work tends to be more clinical, however there may also be teaching and management responsibilities involved. It is also important to distinguish between two types of locums here: Trust Locums and Agency Locums. As the name suggests, agency locums work with a private agency and will generally receive an hourly wage. Trust locums on the other hand are appointed by the NHS Trust themselves and will be on a fixed-term contract which can be renewed. 

GP

GP stands for General Practitioner, and these are doctors who are responsible for the primary care of patients, covering illnesses and ailments across many specialist areas. 

GPs are fully trained and are allowed to practice independently without supervision and all qualified GPs are listed on the GMC’s GP Register. 

Unlike is often the case in overseas healthcare systems, general practitioners are not synonymous with doctors specialising in general medicine, so a general practitioner overseas may not necessarily have the same title in the UK. 

Locum Doctor

These are doctors who are covering a role within a healthcare setting. 

All doctors (aside from F1 doctors) can work as locums. Like all practising physicians, locum doctors are fully registered with, and regulated by, the GMC. 

Sources

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/international-doctors/life-and-work-in-the-uk/toolkit-for-doctors-new-to-the-uk/doctors-titles-explained   


Hopefully, this article goes some way to demystify these terms and titles for international doctors interested in working in the UK. For more information including working in the NHS, doctors' benefits and salaries and how to register with the GMC, take a look through our IMG Resources library. 

            

 

Relevant Jobs

110,257 - 164,372

An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Acute Medicine Department. They are looking to appoint an Acute & General Internal Medicine Consultant, a great opportunity to further your medical career in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support, and international applications from IMGs are welcome.

The successful candidate will be the clinical lead and will drive the development and transformation of acute medicine, where patient-centered care is at the heart of the services. The role involves working within the Acute Assessment Unit, which consists of a 25-bed inpatient area including a 5-bed enhanced care area and an adjacent 6-space Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit.

Health Service

Working for this health service is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Their clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. They foster strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in their modern education center.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department. This is a unique opportunity to help shape an integrated care system with closer political engagement than in the UK.

Department & Team

Medicine in this health service is fully integrated by age and specialty, with three medical wards: . The EAU has a 5-bedded Enhanced Care Area and a separate intensive care unit led by intensivists. The AEC Unit is supported by a SAS doctor and consultants. The department comprises a 16-bed EAU, staffed by 11 consultants, 8 SAS doctors, 7 FY1 doctors, 2 FY2 doctors, and 6 Clinical Fellows, organized into 8 medical teams and the EAU team.

The specialty of Acute Medicine is based within the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU). The service includes a 25-bed Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) featuring 5 enhanced care beds and an Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC) Unit. The post holder will work across both the AAU and the AEC.

Continued Professional Development

The health service offers further training & accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. Health & Community Services supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years, and an annual study leave allowance. 

Life in the area

Living in the area presents significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate is notably advantageous compared to the U.K., and they provide a generous public sector pension scheme that isn\'t constrained by U.K. lifetime or annual contribution limits. The Consultant Contract closely mirrors the U.K. model but offers higher incremental levels. Incremental progression is automatic from points 1 to 17 on the pay scale based on satisfactory performance, while formal applications are necessary for points 18 to 20.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

EEA candidates: 
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine
•    European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:
•    MRCP
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

99,532 - 131,964

A Northern English NHS Trust is looking for a Consultant Histopathologist to join their team at. They are considering either UK or overseas-trained doctors for a permanent contract type. The trust will support with CESR support for those who are looking to attain CESR and Specialist Registration. This is a high performing and friendly department for overseas doctors new to the NHS, or UK-based doctors looking to further careers in the UK.

This is a great job for any overseas Pathologists looking for CESR-support and great career development in a beautiful part of England.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

The NHS Foundation Trust offers top-notch hospital and community healthcare services to a population exceeding 400,000 individuals across several areas/ With two primary hospital locations boasting a combined total of 553 beds, and their hospitals situated approximately 15 miles apart - along with a community hospital, the Trust ensures comprehensive care coverage. Its extensive range of services and specialties includes Bariatric Services, Orthopaedics, Urology, Cardiology, Diabetes Care, Elderly Care, Emergency Care, Gastroenterology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Radiology, Respiratory Medicine, Rheumatology, Stroke Care, Critical Care, Neonatology, Pain Services, and Pathology.

What is the department & team like? 

The Histopathology Department is staffed by a dedicated team of consultants and junior doctors committed to delivering outstanding patient care. The team comprises experienced consultants and supportive junior doctors, ensuring comprehensive coverage and expertise in diagnosing a wide array of cases. The department is actively involved in the diagnosis and management of diverse histopathology and cytology cases, encompassing oncological, gastrointestinal, dermatological, and respiratory conditions, among others.

They offer a range of treatments tailored to meet the specific needs of each patient, with a focus on delivering timely and accurate diagnoses to support effective treatment plans. Equipped with advanced facilities and state-of-the-art technology, the department boasts modern laboratory equipment and diagnostic tools. These resources enable them to efficiently process and analyze histopathological specimens, facilitating prompt and precise diagnoses.

On average, the histopathology department handles a substantial volume of cases each year, covering a broad spectrum of pathology types. Through the collaborative approach and commitment to excellence, they strive to uphold the highest standards of patient care and contribute to advancements in diagnostic medicine.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

The Trust and Histopathology team are dedicated to supporting their doctors career development through. For example, the new appointee will have the opportunity for the development of teaching experience as they would be expected to undertake formal and informal teaching of trainees within the department, and participate with other consultants in teaching/lectures as part of the Trust’s postgraduate education program. There will also be the opportunity for the development of personal research interests through the Research and Development Department. Research is highly encouraged at this trust and is undertaken during SPA sessions. The new consultant will also be able to increase their experience in MDTs, as these are regularly held within the department. 

Life in North East

The North East of the UK offers a diverse blend of rural and urban settings, providing both tranquility and vibrant city life. Residents can explore scenic landscapes such as the Northumberland Coast or enjoy cultural attractions in cities like Newcastle upon Tyne. The region boasts esteemed universities like Durham and Newcastle, along with quality schools. Transportation links are well-established, connecting the area to major cities and airports. Housing options vary from historic properties in market towns to modern developments in bustling urban centers, catering to diverse preferences and lifestyles.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Histopathology
  • Specialist European Qualification in Anatomic Pathology
  • Full and Specialist registration (and with a licence to practise) with the General Medical Council (GMC), or be eligible for registration within six months of interview.
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • FRCPath
  • Full and Specialist registration (and with a licence to practise) with the General Medical Council (GMC), or be eligible for registration within six months of interview.
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance

UK based applicants

  • Full GMC registration
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
  • An understanding of Clinical Governance
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a Crisis & Assessment Team role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The Department & Team

The Crisis and Assessment Team (CAT) serves as the primary gateway to adult and older people\'s mental health services, conducting assessments in the community and emergency settings, alongside medical reviews. They collaborate closely with law enforcement, responding to Adult Protection Notices and coordinating mental health law assessments. This role within the CAT focuses on streamlining referrals, providing short-term crisis interventions, and ensuring individuals receive appropriate ongoing care. You\'ll engage with both working-age adults and older adults, with responsibilities extending to police referrals and mental health law assessments during standard working hours, with on-call commitments.

Continued Professional Development

Professional development is integral to their ethos, offering CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and opportunities for sub-specialist development. They prioritize ongoing learning through conferences, local CME events, and a generous study leave allowance.

Life in the area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.


Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum consultant experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification


Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to an Old Age role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

 

What is the health & community service like?

Working in this location is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. The service fosters strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in a modern education center.

What is the department & team like?

The inpatient services are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, including two wards for older adults. One ward offers 14 assessment beds for individuals over 65 experiencing functional mental health issues, with some flexibility for those under 65. The other ward provides 10 assessment beds for patients with dementia. Following the refurbishment, the latter ward will feature 8 acute assessment beds and 8 transitional/step-down beds for those with dementia or enduring mental health problems who cannot be supported in local nursing or residential homes.

The Older Adults Community Mental Health Team (OACMHT) manages a caseload of about 300 patients, including new referrals triaged by the Crisis and Assessment team, providing both short-term treatment and long-term care coordination. The role involves providing medical support to the OACMHT alongside two other consultants and a staff grade doctor.

The post holder will join an established team, comprising 2 WTE older adult consultants, 1.0 WTE Associate Specialist (Memory Assessment Service), 2.0 WTE staff grades (inpatient and community), and 1.0 WTE F1 doctor (inpatients and community). Dedicated administrative support includes a 0.5 WTE medical secretary and ward and team secretarial support.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Old Age Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a General Adult role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather. 

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%

General Adult Psychiatry Department & Team

The inpatient service features 17 adult acute beds, including an extra-care area, for individuals aged 18 to 65 with severe mental illness requiring admission. The goal is to promote recovery and well-being, helping service users achieve their potential. The service caters to a diverse population with complex needs. The multidisciplinary inpatient team includes doctors (two part-time consultants, staff grade/clinical fellow, and F2), a clinical psychologist, nurses, a social worker, occupational therapists, an art therapist, healthcare assistants, and administrative staff.

The Home Treatment Team functions as a step-up, step-down service to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and facilitate early discharge. They attend ward reviews, support patients on leave, and assist with discharge planning, also gatekeeping inpatient beds. The team includes two part-time consultants, a 0.5 FTE team manager, two FTE senior practitioners, 5.5 FTE nurse practitioners, one FTE social worker, three FTE senior HCAs, and one FTE occupational therapist. Covering all adult ages, there is an arrangement with an Older Adult Consultant for additional support if needed.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in three years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Adult Psychiatry

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