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Your questions answered about switching specialty and retraining

In any field of medicine or business, there are circumstances that mean individuals decide to either retrain or change the focus of their career. The Health Careers website has details about switching medical specialty including information on the Accreditation of Transferable Competencies Framework (ATCF).

There has been an increase in the number of enquiries about how to become a GP, from both trainees across all specialities, consultants, trust and staff grade doctors. Changes in the NHS over recent years mean that more care is provided by primary care teams which are increasing in size and the scope of what they do. The report, ‘The future of primary care, creating teams for tomorrow’ gives more insight into these developments.

We understand that it is not so easy to find information when you have moved on from the normal training cycle so we have provided answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and some examples from people who made the change.

You will find a range of useful information in the applicant guidance and recruitment round dates on the Recruitment section of the website. All applicants will need to apply through the Oriel recruitment portal. There are currently 3 application rounds a year.

The competency based selection process allows applicants to demonstrate their abilities and suitability for GP training.

There are a number of selection centres based across the country. Dates and locations are posted on the Recruitment section of website.

Candidates work through three, 10 minute scenarios known as objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). These are friendly non-intrusive observations using role play scenarios with a patient, colleague, carer or a relative for example, with a written exercise to assess prioritisation skills. The exercises test four main areas around communication skills, conceptual thinking and problem solving, empathy and sensitivity and professional integrity. There is more information in the 'Guidance for Applicants'.

It is possible to train in two and a half years instead of the usual three. If you have been training in a specialty and would like to transfer to a GP training programme, you may be eligible to apply for a reduction in the duration of your GP training under the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), Accreditation of Transferable Competencies Framework (ATCF).

If you are interested in this scheme, you can find more information and FAQs on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), COGPED or AoMRC websites.

Your previous experience will be invaluable in a GP role but due to the different nature of general practice you will need to complete the full training programme.

More help and information about the certificate of GP registration via the combined programme can be found on the RCGP website.

This is possible in some regions of the UK but not all. It is recommended that you check first on the Recruitment Leads & Programme Details section of the website.

The latest terms and conditions (March 2017) are available on the NHS Employers website; please refer to pages 15 & 16 – Paragraph 49-52 under ‘Pay protection on re-entering training from a career grade.’

Anyone with continuous service in a career grade post or posts for at least 13 months immediately prior to re-entering training will be eligible for pay protection for as long as it is more favourable.

It may also be worth looking at the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme (TERS) - further details are available on the TERS section of the website.

Last updated June 2017