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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Training pathways and case studies


Background to specialist training

In order to train in psychiatry, you are required to have a medical degree and to have completed two years of foundation training (or equivalent). There may be an opportunity to undertake a four month psychiatry post as a foundation trainee. Following this, you can then enter specialist training.

There are three years of basic specialty training or core training (CT1-3 posts) which is equivalent to the 'old' senior house officer grade. During this time, you would work towards obtaining your membership examinations. Following successful completion of three years of core training, you can then choose from six different subspecialties for higher training:

  • General
  • Old Age
  • Child and Adolescent
  • Learning Disabiltiy
  • Medical Psychotherapy
  • Forensic

Higher training generally takes a further three years, although some trainees choose to take time out of their programme to complete research or their training programme may be extended as they wish to 'dual train' in two of the subspecialist areas, for example forensic psychotherapy. Higher trainees are called specialist trainees (ST4-6) or specialist registrars (SpR) - the difference in names refers to when trainees began their higher training as there were a number of changes made in 2007.

After completion of higher training, you are able to apply for consultant posts.

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