Applying to Higher Specialist Training

Trainees looking at notes.

Applying to Higher Specialist Training

Applications now open | Apply by 1 November 2019

Higher Specialist Training (HST) is the final stage of postgraduate medical training.

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 successful completion of HST, you will receive a CSCST (Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training). You will be eligible to register with the Medical Council of Ireland as a specialist.

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

We are currently accepting applications for HST programmes commencing July 2020. The deadline to apply is 1 November 2019. The online application forms are available below.

Doctor taking notes.

Entry Requirements for HST

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

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 and 2019 Application Forms

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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.

Shortlisting for interviews (where necessary) will take place in December. 

Interviews for shortlisted candidates take place in February and March.

As there are a limited number of places in HST, entry to each programme is competitive.

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The application process for HST programmes commencing July 2020 will open on Tuesday 1 October 2019 and close on Friday 1 November 2019. 

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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

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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.
  • 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 OET) 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

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

  • employment and training history
  • clinical practice - experience to date
  • academic achievements
  • teaching experience
  • audit experience
  • research experience
  • presentations to date
  • publications to date
  • management and leadership experience
  • career objectives
  • 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 500 characters (letters/spaces etc.).

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You can view our HST training programme curricula here: https://www.rcpi.ie/training/our-specialties/

Shortlisting and Interview criteria

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.

Higher Specialist Training

Ciara Buckley

Senior Operations Manager, Training and Faculties Office

Tel: +353 1 863 9757

Ciara manages the Training and Faculties Office at RCPI.


Cathie Kearns

Coordinator, Internal Medicine Higher Specialist Training

Tel: + 353 1 863 9753

Contact Cathie for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Clinical Genetics
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Rehabilitation Medicine


Jack O'Flanagan

Team Lead, Higher Specialist Training in General Medicine

Tel: +353 (0)1 863 9715


Katerina Prazakova

Coordinator, Internal Medicine Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9796

Contact Katerina for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Genito-Urinary Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Palliative Medicine
  • Rheumatology
  • Cardiology


Lauren Kerchner, HST

Coordinator, Pathology Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 1 863 9640

Contact Lauren for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Chemical Pathology
  • Clinical Microbiology
  • Haematology
  • Histopathology
  • Immunology
  • Neuropathology


Sandra Keeping

Coordinator, Internal Medicine Higher Specialist Training

Tel: +353 863 9716

Contact Sandra for information about Higher Specialist Training in

  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmaceutical Medicine
  • Respiratory Medicine