Doctors working in occupational medicine enjoy an exceptional variety of opportunities for professional fulfilment. Some of the most interesting career paths and the most exciting activities are reserved for specialist consultants and the primary way to becoming an OM consultant is to join the specialty training programme as a Specialty Registrar (StR).
Specialty training in occupational medicine starts at ST3 level and takes four years full-time. The basic criteria for entry are outlined in the person specification, as published by Health Education England. It’s important to note that there is a degree of flexibility, as it’s understood that the necessary entry competencies can be acquired in alternative ways. The result of this are two GMC-approved routes of entry, which actually relate to the type of certificate awarded at the end:
CCT – your experience on entry can be matched exactly to the person specification, so you have completed at least the required initial training in one of the following specialties: surgery, psychiatry, acute medicine (2 years), general practice (3 years), public health (Phase 1), anaesthetics or ACCS (anaesthetics), radiology and paediatrics.
CESR (CP) – the Combined Programme. Your experience on entry differs from the person specification, but you can provide evidence of having acquired an equivalent set of competencies. Perhaps you were previously training to be an anaesthetist or a radiologist, or your initial training took place outside of the UK. The breadth of your experience will be very beneficial to your career in OM.
So which one’s better?
The two certificates are of equal value in the UK and offer the same type of GMC specialist registration and Membership of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM). However, other EU countries may have their own rules regarding certificates of equivalence, such as the CESR (CP), so it would be important to confirm he specific state’s requirements if you’re planning to move abroad in the future. Some of them may ask for additional evaluation.
Mirroring consultant career opportunities, training posts in occupational medicine are distributed among the industry, the NHS and the Armed Forces. All candidates are assessed by the same standards, but the application processes are different.
Train in the NHS – the National Recruitment for occupational medicine is managed by the National School of Occupational Health and groups together all NHS ST3 vacancies. The process runs twice a year, usually in February and August, and the National Occupational Medicine ST3 listing is published via NHS Jobs. The process outline and the breakdown of available posts are viewable in the details of this group listing. It is highly recommended that you sign up for the NSOH newsletter through their website and/or contact them at email@example.com
Train in the industry – industry employers are free to advertise their training vacancies according to their preference, but most use BMJ Careers. Any industry candidate will be required to attend a National Recruitment interview for benchmarking to ensure consistent standards.
Train with the Armed Forces – the Armed Forces manage their own recruitment process, although their candidates are also required to attend a National Recruitment interview for benchmarking to ensure consistent standards.
What happens once I’ve been offered a training post?
Your local LETB will issue your National Training Number and you will need to register with FOM – please click here to fill in the M1 registration form .
Your training will take four years full-time and involve two examinations (Part 1 MFOM and Part 2 MFOM), a research project (e.g. dissertation, substantial audit) and workplace-based assessments. The best source of information on the technicalities of postgraduate specialty training, including less-than-full-time training (LTFT), is the Gold Guide.
The DOccMed is a valuable non-specialist qualification in occupational medicine. If you choose to undertake the Diploma before entering specialty training, it will provide you with a desirable additional item in your application portfolio, valuable introductory experience, and you will be exempt from the Part 1 MFOM exam.
In 2014 Dr Abeyna Jones, then a new OM trainee, and Professor John Harrison, Head of the National School for Occupational Health, wrote an article for BMJ Careers outlining the recruitment, training, and career opportunities in occupational medicine.