Training and development (plastic surgery)

This page provides useful information on the training and development for this specialty and also has tips for people at all stages of their career including medical school.

Download the full image for the plastic surgery pathway here

Core surgical training

Core surgical training lasts two years and provides training in a hospital in a range of surgical specialties. It is possible to take a training which is themed towards plastic surgery, but a more general training is also possible. During the first two years of your training you must take the examination to give you membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) or equivalent. You will need at least six months’ experience in plastic surgery posts.

Following successful completion of your core surgical training it is necessary to apply competitively for the next phase of your training (ST3).

ST3 specialty plastic surgery training

Specialty plastic surgery training (ST3) takes six years, although this can vary according to individual circumstances. During this time you will be employed as a specialty registrar. At the end of this training you can then apply for consultant posts. However, before you can do this you must pass the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination (FRCS Plast). Once you have passed this you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) and you will be eligible to be on the GMC Specialist Register. Many plastic surgeons also undertake further training in cosmetic surgery should they wish to work within aesthetic surgery.

Completion of other training courses such as Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Basic Surgical Skills and Care of the Critically Ill Surgical Patient (CCrISP) will also greatly enhance your application for ST3 training.

Selection panels also look for evidence of academic and research achievements, such as degrees, prizes, awards, distinctions, publications and presentations. An understanding of research, audit and teaching is also important.  Entry is highly competitive so you will need achievements that are relevant to plastic surgery. Completion of an elective in plastic surgery will demonstrate your commitment to the selection panel.

Find out more about:

Plastic surgery training on the GMC website

Detailed entry requirements and all essential and desirable criteria are listed in the Person Specification 2017 for plastic surgery ST3.

All 2017 person specifications can be found on the NHS specialty training website. Please note that these documents are updated every year in the autumn before the recruitment round opens.

The integrated academic training pathway

If you are interested in research the integrated academic pathway may be for you. This combination of academic and clinical activities includes a 2 year academic foundation programme with academic clinical fellowships, and the opportunity to take a PhD and an out of training research experience. Entry is highly competitive. For further information contact the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons.

This information is correct at the time of writing. Full and accurate details of training pathways are available from medical royal colleges, local education and training boards (LETBs) or the GMC.

Getting in tips

It is important to develop your practical skills and interest in surgery as early as you can. This will also give you valuable experience to add to your CV.

Here are some suggestions for people at different stages of their career:

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