Crammer’s Corner: Opportunities during GP training and after qualification


As a GP ST3, it can be an extremely stressful year until both the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and Clinical Skills Examination (CSA) examinations are under your belt. However, after passing the mandatory examinations, there is a good opportunity to further improve consulting and work within the time constraints of normal general practice, while also developing an individual consultation style and thinking about the direction of future careers. This article by Dr Hana Patel looks at career options and free resources available for GPs-in-training and those who are newly qualified.

On entering the 3-year GP Speciality Training programme it may be difficult to think much about life after achieving the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) while juggling life, hospital rotas, on call, exams, the ePortfolio and booking out-of-hours shifts. However, it is worth considering the many avenues and career options for newly qualified GPs early and looking at what to explore further.

Academic GP training in England

The academic GP training programme is available in the UK, but the process is different in England. This scheme involves trainees applying in ST1 through the usual recruitment process and assessment methods of the National Recruitment Office (NRO). The 4-year programme for GP trainees is run in conjunction with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is a clinical specialty training post incorporating academic training. The post incorporates academic research (25%) with GP specialist clinical training (75%).

Another way of pursuing academic GP training is with a GP career progression fellowship from the NIHR. This can suit GPs already working towards a doctorate. These are part-time roles intended to be flexible and are usually for a 12–24-month period. These posts are few in number and early application is encouraged. On a local level, the NIHR also has a Primary Care Research Network that GPs can contact for advice on current research projects and trials, hosting research, recruiting patients for larger projects or becoming a GP member on a research study board.

As a qualified GP, once in practice, you can nominate yourself and the practice for an RCGP initiative called ‘Research Ready’. This is a quality assurance programme for all research-ready GP practices. E-learning modules are available on the RCGP e-learning website, which are free for trainees to access. The Clinical Innovation and Research Centre at the RCGP is another resource for GPs interested in research and offering support when considering or embarking on research and clinical audit.

Global Health Fellowship Programme

The Global Health Fellowship Programme (GHF) is another scheme accessible from ST1, once a GP training post is confirmed. The programme enables GP trainees to work overseas in a resource-poor rural South African or Ugandan community for 12 months between ST2 and ST3 as part of a 4-year Global Health and GP training programme. The training programme can be extended by a further 3 months, if trainees choose to pursue the Diploma in Tropical Medicine (TM&H) course.

Clinical Commissioning and Leadership Fellows Scheme

Some areas, such as Health Education England (HEE) in the East of England, offer an opportunity to gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Medicine. This programme of leadership and self-development aims to equip senior GP trainees in the ST3 year with commissioning competencies and incorporates participation in a year-long leadership project.

Another scheme available to emerging leaders within the HEE Kent, Surrey and Sussex region (KSS) is the Darzi Fellowship Clinical Leadership scheme for multi-professional colleagues recognised by others to have the potential to become future leaders in their respective fields. Trainees are supported by a bespoke leadership development programme leading to a Postgraduate Certificate qualification in Healthcare Leadership with funding to carry out a year-long project.

Post CCT Fellowships

HEE has developed Primary Care Fellowship schemes for GPs in some areas of England, including KSS. This 1-year scheme includes an MSc in Health and Wellbeing and aims to assist GPs in developing a special interest in education and research related to the education and training of GPs and the wider primary care workforce. There are also similar clinical fellowship schemes available from HEE in, for example, emergency care, dermatology, ENT, elderly and frail care, or palliative care.

Other available resources

If you are unsure what direction to take with your career, then make use of the available help and resources. The RCGP’s First5® initiative supports newly qualified GP trainees in the first 5 years after qualification. There is an elected First5® committee tasked with raising local issues, signposting GPs to learning events, mentoring and networking. HEE also offer a mentoring service accessible to newly qualified GPs wanting to access extra support and help.

Finally, the Local Medical Council (LMC) is another locally available resource. The LMC is the only body with a statutory duty to represent GPs at a local level. Depending on the particular local pressures affecting general practice, the LMC has developed different initiatives to retain GPs and encourage newly qualified GPs to work in certain areas, for example, by promoting a portfolio career. Each LMC advertises vacancies locally for GP and multi-professional roles.

References and further information

  NIHR (2018) GP Career Progression Fellowships in Primary Care. Available at: (accessed 19 December 2018).
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  HEE Kent, Surrey and Sussex region (KSS) (2018) KSS Darzi Fellowship in Clinical Leadership. Available at: (accessed 10 December 2018).
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  National Institute for Health Research (2019) NIHR ACF Recruitment. Available at: (accessed 18 December 2018).
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  RCGP (2018) RCGP Research Ready. Available at: (accessed 17 December 2018).
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Conclusion: General practice has always offered diverse, rich and sustainable careers. In the current climate there are even more opportunities and there are a lot of different initiatives to encourage GP trainees to become part of the local workforce after completion of training. Take advantage of these opportunities to develop and enhance training for your own long, diverse and rewarding career in general practice.
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