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Once doctors complete the Foundation Programme, they are able to apply to specialty training. This will determine the particular areas of medical expertise they will pursue during their careers. The length of training varies according to the specialty, ranging from three to eight years. Once that is completed, the doctor can become a consultant.

The are many kinds of specialty, with some providing opportunities for doctors to further specify their areas of interest into sub-specialties. Training and registration for each specialty is run by the relevant royal college.

One type of specialty training is general practice. This has a separate training pathway and usually a shorter period of training. More can be learned about this on the General practice page.

Type of training

There are several different types of training programmes. Two examples include:

  • Run-through training programmes - these can last between 3-7 years depending on the speciality
  • Uncoupled training programmes - this involves a period of core training followed by application to competitive higher speciality training


You can explore the different specialties and sub-specialties in medicine on the NHS Health Careers website

Other opportunities

There are also other training opportunities available which are not part of 'run-through' training programmes, such as Fixed-Term Specialty Training Appointments (FTSTAs) and Locum Appointments for Training (LAT). The British Medical Association have created a useful summary on the different pathways available

GMC Data Dashboards

See how many doctors have registered from each UK medical school over time, their demographics, what they have specialised in, and more. See the full data here.

Useful links