Higher Specialist Training

Trainees talking about notes.

The final crucial step on the path to specialisation in medicine

Higher Specialist Training (HST) is the final crucial step on the path to specialisation in medicine. It is a four- to six-year training programme completed in Specialist Registrar (SpR) posts, with programmes available in 28 specialties.

On completion of HST, you will be eligible to register with the Medical Council of Ireland as a specialist and can begin to apply for consultant posts.

Entry to HST is competitive and we manage the national recruitment process every year.

Information regarding non-EU doctors
We are aware of issues regarding access to Specialist Training for non-EU doctors and are working with a wide range of stakeholders, including HSE National Doctor Training and Planning (NDTP) to expand educational and training opportunities for those doctors who are not currently in training schemes.

RCPI recognises the enormous contribution made by non-EU doctors in Irish hospitals especially at this challenging time. As the largest postgraduate medical training body, RCPI is working with a range of stakeholders, including the Forum for Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies and Medical Council, to address the challenges faced by those doctors who are not in training schemes. This issue was discussed at a recent Council meeting. The College has also held meetings with doctors who are advocating for changes on behalf of this group.

A number of amendments to the Medical Practitioners Act that impact on access to training for some doctors are awaiting enactment. RCPI has lobbied for the enactment of these amendments many times and most recently (June 2020) RCPI President, Prof Mary Horgan wrote to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to highlight the urgency of progressing these amendments.

RCPI successfully advocated for an increased number of training positions to be created in Irish hospitals. This summer the HSE announced 80 additional training positions in our Basic Specialist Training programme, which are open to EU and Non-EU doctors working in the Irish health service. We are currently processing these applications.

Access to RCPI specialist training programmes is governed by guidance issued to RCPI by HSE NDTP ( – here are 2 links to that guidance.)

Training bodies are supported and funded by HSE NDTP.

I highly recommend RCPI's Higher Specialist Training programme. It has more than prepared me to be competitive at an international level and after going abroad, I realised how well rounded my training was in terms of knowledge, technical abilities, professionalism and approach to work.

Grace Chan

Gastroenterology Consultant in London with an interest in hepatopancreaticobiliary