Training and development (GP)

This page provides useful information about training pathways.

The full training programme for general practice currently lasts a minimum of three years Selection takes place before entry to ST1 (after the foundation programme). Training includes 18 -24 months working as a specialty registrar in a range of jobs in hospital specialties such as obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, geriatric medicine, accident and emergency or psychiatry.

You will then spend an additional 12-18 months as a GP Specialty Registrar in General Practice. A significant proportion of the trainees in general practice are training on less than full time basis.

Specialty training

Trainees must gain Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) in order to be issued with a certificate of completion of their specialty training (CCT) in general practice by the GMC.

In order for a doctor to work as a GP in the UK there is a requirement to be on the GMC's GP register, to hold a licence to practise also granted by the GMC and to be on the NHS England Medical Performers List.

GPs are expected to keep up to date after completing their initial training. The Royal College of General Practitioners uses a credit-based system for measuring continuing professional development. One hour of learning plus a reflective record equals one credit. As 250 credits are required for GP revalidation every five years it is useful for GPs to accumulate around 50 credits per year. Ways of doing this include updating essential knowledge and doing knowledge challenges via e-learning through the RCGP.

The approved postgraduate training programme for general practice is available from the GMC.

    • join your university GP society
    • attend conferences for medical students, such as those offered by the RCGP – many are free – this will give you an opportunity to network and meet your future colleagues
    • get involved with the GMC (General Medical Council), eg medical students can participate in visits to medical schools as part of the GMC’s quality assurance process
    • join the Royal College of GPs as a student member
    • consider becoming a student member of the BMA (the British Medical Association is the trade union and professional association for doctors and provides careers advice)
    • make your specialty decisions in good time so that you can test it out before committing yourself, eg by using hospital visits and clinical placements arranged as part of your course to ask questions and observe people at work
    • choose the topic of your supervised research project carefully to test out your career thinking
    • remember your first priority is to demonstrate that you have developed the personal, learning, clinical, practical and management skills needed by all doctors
    • talk to your clinical and educational supervisors about particular areas of interest to explore
    • join the Royal College of GPs as a foundation doctor member
    • use full placements to experience specialties that you might be interested in or apply for taster experiences if you can’t get a placement
    • don’t just look at the bigger and more visible specialties when considering your career choice
    • talk with your peers about their career ideas and experiences – you may be able to help each other
    • listen to information and advice from more experienced doctors but make your own decisions
    • taking part in a clinical audit is important for your development as a doctor but you may be able to choose an audit project related to a specialty that interests you
    • ensure your Foundation e-portfolio has plenty of medical evidence and that this is kept properly up-to-date
    • try to gain teaching and management experience
    • look at competition ratios (i.e. the number of applicants to places) critically. Find out what is happening this year and spot any regional differences in competition ratios.
    • view the resources on the Foundation Programme website
    • write case reports or make presentations (in acute medicine, for instance) with a general practice focus
    • enter essay prizes and competitions
    • speak to GPs about what the role is like
    • read as much information as you can on the websites of relevant professional bodies
    • impress interviewers by showing that your interest in the specialty is intrinsically motivated, ie you are drawn to the work and not just attracted by admiration of someone you have shadowed (you will also be happier in your career in that specialty many years later)
    • be prepared to move to where the vacancies are
    • continue to develop your practical and academic expertise
    • undertake a research project
    • try to get some of your work published and present at national and international meetings
    • join or start a Journal Club (a group who meet to critically evaluate academic research)
    • teach junior colleagues
    • take on any management opportunities you are offered
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