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

Medical Students and Foundation Trainees


After medical school

After graduation you will spend 2 years working in a hospital as a ‘foundation programme trainee’. Foundation programme training will extend the knowledge and skills you have gained as a medical student and will help you become a competent doctor, delivering the best quality of care to patients. It will do this by providing you with a curriculum and learning outcomes that you will need to meet through the 2 years’ training, not only in acute clinical care but also the generic skills that all doctors must now have.

  • The foundation programme is the start of your postgraduate training and will help you understand the important qualities that you will need to develop to be a successful doctor in the NHS. After successfully completing year one, you will be eligible for full registration with the GMC.
  • The second year of foundation programme training will extend your knowledge and ability across the range of generic and acute care skills but will also give you opportunities to experience working within different specialties that you might be considering as career options.

Specialty training

Once you have completed the foundation programme you will be able to apply for specialty training; core training (CT1-CT3) and higher training (ST4-ST6). It is not mandatory to have done any psychiatry training in your foundation programme though you will need to demonstrate your commitment to the specialty at the application stage. There are several ways to gain experience in the mental health field and enhance your CV which do not necessarily include the foundation year training. There are numerous voluntary organisations such as the Samaritans and Sane Line which provide experience and some understanding of mental health issues. You can also contact local consultant psychiatrists in your trust to see if they would be willing for you to shadow them in order to gain first-hand knowledge of the work.

More information regarding speciality training can be found here.

How to apply for CT1 and ST4 training:

CT1 and ST4 training posts are recruited through the national recruitment process with the North Western Deanery. For full information regarding the recruitment process along with applicants’ guides* and job specifications* please visit the North Western Deaneries website.


* Please note that the information provided is subject to change. Please read the documentation for the intake you are considering applying to.

A week in the life of a Higher Trainee

As a Higher Trainee (SpR) in General Adult Psychiatry, currently doing a one year post with a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) in south Liverpool, no two weeks are the same.  No two patients are the same either!  As a Higher Trainee in General Adult Psychiatry, you are required to complete at least one year doing an inpatient (Acute Care) post and one year doing a CMHT post.  The third year can be spent obtaining an endorsement in either liaison psychiatry, rehabilitation psychiatry or addictions (drug and alcohol) psychiatry.  Alternatively you may choose to spend a year doing with the Early Intervention in Psychosis service.  So what does my typical week look like?...


  • A.M – Outpatient Clinic
  • P.M – Review of Home Treatment Team patients and any home visits or urgent CMHT reviews
  • A.M – Weekly academic programme (expected to Chair one session)
  • P.M – Research session
  • A.M – Outpatient Clinic
  • P.M – Special interest session: prison CMHT at HMP Liverpool or liaison psychiatry session at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital
  • A.M – Undergraduate teaching
  • P.M – MDT meeting and weekly clinical supervision.  Occasional review of     Home Treatment Team patients or urgent CMHT reviews
  • A.M – Outpatient Clinic
  • P.M – Admin session and any home visits, Home Treatment Team patient      reviews or urgent CMHT reviews

What are the main positives of being a Higher Trainee in psychiatry as opposed to an SpR in other specialties in medicine?  The main ones would be the commitment to having a dedicated one hour of clinical supervision per week and the opportunity to spend half a day a week doing research and half a day and week doing a “special interest.”  The biggest positive of all though is the variety of clinical presentations encountered and the challenges that assessing and treating each patient provides.  Psychiatry certainly treats its trainees well, which is not necessarily the case in some other specialties in medicine.


Dr Declan Hyland

ST4 in General Adult Psychiatry, Mersey


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