About Higher Specialist Training

Trainees looking at notes.

What is Higher Specialist Training?

Higher Specialist Training (HST) is the final step towards specialisation in medicine.

It is a four- to six-year training programme completed in Specialist Registrar (SpR) posts. We offer Higher Specialist Training programmes in 28 specialties.

Our Higher Specialist Training programmes are designed to produce doctors who are leaders in their fields. We will help you develop the advanced skills and knowledge required for practising independently as a specialist, leading a clinical team and managing the everyday challenges of our health service.

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

Completion of Basic Specialist Training, or an equivalent programme, is an essential entry requirement for HST.

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

Applications for HST programmes commencing July 2017 closed on 30 November 2016.


Doctor taking notes.

Entry Requirements for 2017

The next start date for Higher Specialist Training is Monday 10 July 2017

Entry requirements for Higher Specialist Training are programme-specific. To see the entry requirements for your preferred programme, please check the relevant HST curriculum.

Generally speaking, you must:

  • have completed Basic Specialist Training in the relevant specialty (or an equivalent programme) by the start date for HST
  • be eligible for inclusion on the Trainee Specialist Division of the Medical Council’s register
  • have achieved a relevant postgraduate qualification such as MRCPI in General Medicine, Paediatrics or Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • have demonstrated an aptitude for, and an interest in, that specialty.

If you did not graduate from a medical school in Ireland, please read our guidance on Medical Council registration.

Places in HST are allocated in the first instance to candidates who are citizens of Ireland or nationals of another member state of the European Union. Read more about allocation of places in HST.

Frequently Asked Questions about applying to HST


You can apply to Higher Specialist Training in 28 programmes. You can apply to more than one programme, although we advise against applying to more than two programmes.

You must submit a separate application for each programme.

The application process is fully online –you don’t need to submit a paper application.

Make sure you read the entry requirements for your chosen programme carefully - The entry requirements are listed in the HST curriculum for each programme.

The recruitment and selection process for Higher Specialist Training (HST) opens in November every year.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates take place the following February and March. As there are a limited number of places in HST, entry to each programme is competitive.


The application process for Higher Specialist Training programmes commencing July 2017 open on Tuesday 1 November 2016.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 30 November 2016.

Online application forms will be made available here on 1 November 2016.


You will be required to upload two scanned reference forms as part of the online application process.

On the reference form your referees are asked to rate your clinical skills, professional attitude and personal attributes.

Your two referees must include your most recent supervisor.

Download Blank Reference Form


You will need to submit the following documents with your application:

  • A scanned copy of your certificate of completion of Basic Specialist Training (BST) in the relevant specialty, or a scanned letter from RCPI confirming equivalence of BST or an email from RCPI (not more than 12 months old) of provisional approval of completion of BST. Save this document to your desktop as “Email of provisional approval” or “Letter of equivalence”.
  • For most specialties you must have achieved a postgraduate qualification such as MRCPI. Please check the relevant HST curriculum.  If your qualification was not issued by RCPI, save a scanned certified copy of the certificate to your desktop as “MRCPUK” or “Equivalent Certificate”. You do not need to submit a copy of your MRCPI certificate.
  • Scanned/PDF of proof of English language competency (IELTS or Cambridge ESOL) or documentary evidence if you are exempt from this requirement - All applicants to our training programmes are required to demonstrate their competency in the English language in line with HSE specifications*
  • A scanned colour copy of your passport identity page

* If you completed your entire medical degree in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, UK or the United States you are exempt from having to provide proof of English language competency.

Guidance on making files smaller for upload is available here




On the online application form you will be asked for the following information:

  • employment and training history
  • clinical practice - experience to date
  • teaching experience
  • audit experience
  • research experience
  • presentations to date
  • publications to date
  • abstract publications to date
  • management experience
  • academic distinctions
  • skills courses completed
  • aims and achievements
  • contact details of two referees, one of whom must be your most recent supervising consultant.

Please be brief in describing only relevant experience under each of the headings on the application form. Please note that formatting (paragraphs, special characters, bullet points, spacing etc.) will not copy over to your final application. All free text boxes are limited to 2000 characters (letters/spaces etc.).

Get in Touch

We have a dedicated team to help you through your Higher Specialist Training, available to deal with any questions you may have.

Theresa Murphy

Coordinator, Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9778

Contact Theresa for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Endocrinology & Diabetus Mellitus
  • Genito-Urinary Medicine
  • General Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Palliative Medicine
  • Rheumatology

Odharnait Uí Bhuachalla

Coordinator, Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9714

Contact Odharnait for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Cardiology
  • Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmaceutical Medicine
  • Public Health Medicine
  • Respiratory Medicine

Dean Lennon

Coordinator, Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9713

Contact Dean for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Chemical Pathology
  • Haematology
  • Histopathology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Gastroenterology

Andrei Vlad Vasilescu

Coordinator, Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9712

Contact Andrei for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Clinical Genetics
  • Dermatology
  • General Paediatrics
  • Neonatology
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Paediatric Cardiology
  • Rehabilitation Medicine