The journey to becoming an NHS Consultant

The journey to becoming an NHS Consultant

Feb 5, 2024.

Embarking on the journey to becoming a Consultants in the NHS is a significant career step.

NHS Consultants are highly skilled professionals who stand at the forefront of patient care and provide exceptional medical guidance and leadership.

While the journey to becoming an NHS Consultant can be demanding, the rewards it offers are substantial.

In this guide, we will explore the intricacies of this journey, providing valuable insights and tips for Junior Doctors and medical students aspiring to achieve this distinguished position.


What is an NHS Consultant?

An NHS Consultant is a Senior Doctor entrusted with significant responsibilities for patient care. Their duties encompass leadership, decision-making, and ensuring the highest standards of medical practice. The role demands a comprehensive understanding of medical specialties and effective communication skills. As an NHS Consultant, you would lead clinical teams whilst also providing expert knowledge within your specialty.

Responsibilities encompass a broad spectrum, including:

  • Providing comprehensive patient care: Consultants are entrusted with the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients, ensuring they receive the highest standard of medical attention.
  • Guiding Junior Doctors: Consultants act as mentors, imparting their knowledge and experience to Junior Doctors, fostering their growth and development within the medical field.
  • Spearheading research and innovation: Consultants are at the forefront of medical advancements, actively engaging in research and innovation to improve patient outcomes.
  • Championing clinical leadership: Consultants provide clinical leadership, steering the direction of healthcare services and ensuring they align with best practices.

How Do I Become a Consultant in the NHS?

To become an NHS Consultant, you will need to complete a rigorous training process that will include several qualifications. Below are the steps you can follow in your journey to becoming a Consultant:

How Do I Become a Consultant in the NHS?

Qualifications to Become an NHS Consultant

The necessary qualifications typically include a medical degree, a specified number of years of clinical experience, and obtaining a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). Additionally, it’s worth exploring the possibility of achieving a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR), especially for international Doctors.

Medical degree: You would be required to have a medical degree from a reputable institution.

Experience: A minimum of six years training in a speciality is required to become a Consultant.

Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT): This is a certification that demonstrates that you have completed your clinical competency and training requirements.

Certificate of Eligibility of Specialist Registration (CESR): CESR is another route of getting on the specialist register for those working in the UK through alternative qualifications.


Journey to Becoming an NHS Consultant

The path to becoming an NHS Consultant is a rigorous yet rewarding one, typically spanning 6-8 years of dedicated training following medical school graduation.

  1. Medical School: The foundation of the journey lies in medical school, where aspiring Consultants acquire a comprehensive understanding of the basic sciences of medicine and hone their clinical skills.
  2. Foundation Training: Upon completing medical school, aspiring Consultants embark on two years of foundation training, gaining exposure to a variety of medical specialties and refining their clinical skills.
  3. Specialist Training: The heart of the journey lies in specialist training, where aspiring Consultants delve into their chosen specialty, typically for five years. This intensive training equips them with the in-depth knowledge and expertise required to excel in their chosen field.
  4. Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT): The culmination of specialist training is the attainment of the CCT, a prestigious credential that signifies the achievement of Consultant-level expertise.
  5. Consultancy: Armed with a CCT, an aspiring Consultant can embark on a Consultancy career, applying for Consultant positions in a chosen specialty.


What Specialties
Can You Choose?

Exploring various medical specialties is an essential part of the journey. Different specialisations open doors to unique opportunities and challenges. For instance, the role of an Acute Medicine Consultant involves handling urgent and complex cases, while a Geriatric Medicine Consultant focuses on unique and sensitive healthcare needs of older adults.

There is a wide variety of medical specialities that you can choose from when considering your career as a Consultant. Some of the specialities available include:

Acute Medicine Consultant: As an Acute Medicine Consultant, you would specialise in the immediate and early care of adult patients with a wide range of medical conditions.
Geriatric Medicine Consultant: Geriatric Medicine Consultants provide specialised care for elderly patients, focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related diseases and conditions.
General Medicine: Encompassing a wide range of conditions, General Medicine Consultants provide expert care for a broad spectrum of patients.

Surgery: Performing a variety of surgical procedures, Surgeons play a crucial role in restoring patients’ health and well-being.

Paediatrics: Dedicated to the care of children, Paediatricians diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of paediatric conditions.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology: Providing care to women throughout their reproductive lives, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists oversee pregnancy, childbirth, and women’s health.

Anaesthetics: Ensuring patient safety and comfort during surgical procedures, Anaesthetists administer anaesthetics and monitor patients’ vital signs.

Psychiatry: Addressing mental health disorders, Psychiatrists provide diagnosis, treatment, and support to individuals experiencing mental health challenges.

Stroke Medicine Consultant: Stroke Medicine Consultants specialise in the care and treatment of patients who have experienced a stroke. They work to minimise the long-term effects of strokes and improve patient outcomes.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Consultant?

The length of time it takes to become a Consultant can vary. Generally, it takes approximately six to eight years to complete your speciality training and become eligible for Consultant positions. This duration includes medical school, foundation training, specialty training, and the acquisition of relevant qualifications. However, it is important to note that the length of time it takes to complete your specialisation will differ depending on your chosen speciality.

It is important to stay dedicated and committed throughout the training process. The journey to becoming a Consultant can be challenging, but the rewards are worthwhile.


How Much Do Consultants Earn?

Consultant Doctors in the UK can expect to earn between £93,000 and £126,000 per year. However, it is important to note that salaries may vary depending on the speciality as well as the location. Private Consultants may earn higher salaries compared to those working in the public healthcare system, and Locum Consultants also often have the opportunity to earn more, depending on the amount of hours they work.


Why Don’t All Doctors Become Consultants?

Not all Doctors choose to pursue a career as a Consultant and this could be for any number of reasons. First, the journey to becoming a Consultant requires an intense study regime and a significant investment of time and effort. It is not a career path that suits everyone. Additionally, the criteria for becoming a Consultant can be strict, and meeting these requirements can be challenging.

Research indicates that only 25% of Doctors become Consultants. However, those who do choose to become Consultants enjoy the opportunity to advance their careers and take charge of complex treatment plans. It is a career path that allows for specialisation and expertise within your chosen field.


How ID Medical Supports on the path to becoming an NHS Consultant

How ID Medical Supports Consultants

The path to becoming an NHS Consultant is an extraordinary undertaking, filled with challenges, rewards, and the profound satisfaction of making a significant impact on the lives of others. With dedication, perseverance, and the right support, you can confidently embark on this remarkable journey and achieve your aspirations in the esteemed field.

At ID Medical, have a deep understanding of the healthcare landscape and the unique challenges and opportunities faced by aspiring NHS Consultants. And our goal is to provide you with access to top-quality opportunities that can help you progress in your career.

Sign up with us, and our team of recruitment specialists will work closely with you to understand your career ambitions and match you with suitable positions. We can help you find your perfect role and support you throughout your career journey.


Our comprehensive range of services to support you include:

  • Career Guidance: Our experienced Recruitment Consultants provide personalised career guidance, helping you identify your ideal specialty and navigate the complex path to Consultancy.
  • Recruitment Expertise: We leverage our extensive network within the healthcare sector to connect you with the most suitable Consultant opportunities, aligning your skills and aspirations with the right positions.
  • Interview Preparation: We provide comprehensive interview preparation support, equipping you with the confidence and skills to excel in Consultant interviews.
  • Negotiation Guidance: We guide you through the negotiation process, ensuring you secure competitive rates that reflects your expertise and experience.
  • Ongoing Support: We remain your trusted partner throughout your Consultancy career, providing ongoing support, professional development guidance, and access to exclusive networking opportunities.


Embark on Your Consultancy Journey with Confidence

Contact ID Medical Today

Take the first step towards your consultancy aspirations by contacting ID Medical today.
Our team of specialist Recruitment Consultants is eager to connect with you, discuss your career goals,
and provide tailored guidance and support throughout your journey to becoming a Medical Consultant.

Register now