SAS career development

Please see the SAS resources page for the recently published RCPsych Guidance on CESR Fellowship Schemes. 


This page provides information about applying to the Specialist Register – Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) and becoming an Affiliate member of the College. You will also find resources related to the Specialist grade and other resources related to career development.

What is CESR and what are the eligibility requirements?

The CESR provides a route for doctors who do not hold a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) to obtain specialist registration. They must satisfy the General Medical Council (GMC) that their specialist training or specialist qualifications, when considered together, are equivalent to a CCT in the specialty in question.

Doctors who have undertaken a minimum of 6 months training or obtained a specialist qualification and acquired specialist medical experience or knowledge as a psychiatrist within a non-training post, and are currently practising, may apply to the GMC for assessment of their competencies. 

Role of the College in the CESR process

The College’s role is to evaluate applications for Specialist Registration in Psychiatry and send recommendations to the GMC. The College works closely with the GMC to ensure that a robust system of assessment is established.

To achieve this, the College:

  • determines criteria reflecting training requirements for doctors applying for the inclusion in the Specialist Register
  • evaluates individual applications for the inclusion in the Specialist Register
  • must be satisfied that the applicant demonstrates an equivalent level of competence to that of a UK qualified specialist holding a CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training) 

The College has produced Guidance notes for CESR Applicants, and hosts blogs from previous applicants sharing their advice and experience of the process.

Applying for a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR)

CESR applications are made to the GMC, rather than to the College. Further information about how to apply can be found on the GMC website


Affiliateship is open to psychiatrists in the Specialty Doctor, Staff Grade and other Non-Consultant Career Grade posts such as Clinical Assistant and Associate Specialist. Other job titles are sometimes used to describe such posts, and individual consideration might be given to doctors in other grades, not specified above, but who are nevertheless working in Psychiatry.

This grade enables psychiatrists who are not in training grades or substantive consultant posts, and who do not have the MRCPsych, to join the College.

Affiliateship of the College is open to registered medical practitioners working in the United Kingdom and who meet the following criteria:

  • Have support from two sponsors who are subscribing Members, Fellows or Specialist Associate of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Do not hold the MRCPsych qualification
  • Do not hold specialist registration
  • Are not in an approved training post, substantive consultant post or honorary consultant post.

The College is keen to recruit doctors in Specialty Doctor and Associate Specialist posts to Affiliateship. To see the application forms and to read more about the benefits and application process please visit the grades of membership page.

SAS Specialist Grade

Please see the resources below if you want to develop a Specialist grade post. The Specialist posts is for specialty doctors who have completed a minimum of 12 years’ clinical work since obtaining their primary medical qualification. A minimum of 6 years should have been in a relevant specialty. Specialist grade posts should meet the criteria set out in the generic capabilities framework for the specialist grade, which has been developed by AoMRC, BMA and NHS Employers.

We have developed a Psychiatry specific Job Description and Person Specification, you will also find links to resources provided by NHS Employers and the BMA. If you have any question about developing a post in this grade, please contact us via our dedicated email address

Specialist Grade JD and PS (DOC)

NHS Employers Resources

BMA resources

BMA Wales Contract framework

To seek approval of your post please see our dedicated Job Description Approval guidance.

If you need to find a SAS rep to sit on your interview panel and do not already have access to the College Assessor Database please contact the Workforce team

Funded Pilot to become an Approved Clinician

HEE are running a pilot scheme in February 2023 for SAS doctors who wish to become approved clinicians.

Eligibility criteria for the pilot:

  • Can start a course in February 2023, which may be as short as 6 months or as long as 2 years (the course places will be allocated competitively during the recruitment process)
  • Their medical director supports them having the time off required (there is money to pay for the PA sessions needed which their trust will receive) and AC mentoring in the trust (an AC that is happy to meet from time to time).
  • They are substantive NHS SAS psychiatrists on national contracts (they can be current acting/locum consultants if they are in the same trust as their substantive SAS contract)
  • They have been S12 approved for at least one year AND they have a minimum of 7 years' experience in psychiatry (at least 4 years at level higher than core trainee). 

Questions about the scheme should be directed to 

There will be a webinar with details for all those interested (applicants, trusts, anyone else) at 4 pm Wednesday 23rd of November. This will include a few slides with the HEE National Mental Health Advisor Professor Wendy Burn and Dr Lily Read, Chair of the RCPsych SAS Committee, followed by Q&A.

The process of recruitment will start very soon and will have a short turn around given the need for everyone to be ready to start the course by February 2023. Therefore, SAS colleagues considering this are encouraged to start speaking with their clinical/medical director now, as candidates will need to provide written confirmation that the trust supports them. 



Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry