GP Training



  • What does it mean to be a Training practice?
  • How long does it take to be qualified as a GP?
  • Have you ever thought about how long it takes to be a GP or what it means to be a training practice?

To be a training practice you need to have GP’s who are interested in teaching new doctors, and undertake special training in teaching and assessment. Dr Esther Cheesman and Dr Anjali Melethil are recognised trainers and have junior doctors working under her supervision within the practice.

image of trainee doctor

The practice has to be assessed and recognised as meeting certain standards to be able to support and train the new doctors. The trainers have to undergo on-going professional development if they want to continue with training. Both GPs are active members of the West Kent Trainers Group.

Trainee GP’s used to be called registrars, they are now known as ST1, ST2 or ST3, the numbers indicate which year of their specialist training they are in. The ST1 and 2 are more junior and work in the practice for up to 4 months, whereas the ST3 works in the practice in their final year of GP training.

During the 3 years of specialist GP training they are supervised by a trainer, so we may have doctors working in other practices or in hospital who are under our supervision as their educational supervisor.

Throughout this period they have to undergo assessments, attend vocational training study days and complete exams whilst working as doctors. So it is a busy and stressful time for them. In order to qualify as a GP in these final 3 years they have to pass the Advanced Knowledge test (AKT which is multiple choice exam paper). They also need to complete an electronic portfolio of assessments and learning log diary videoing joint consultations are an essential part of their learning. Some of these videos are then selected to show to the trainer to work on consultation skill. Then they have to pass the clinical skills assessment (CSA) which is effectively them being observed and examined whilst doing a simulated surgery.

Prior to the last 3 years of specialist training these young doctors have done at least 2 years as junior hospital doctors in their “foundation years” this is the first 2 years after qualifying.

Before that they have been successful in gaining a place at university to study medicine, and passed all their exams; this takes between 5 and 6 years depending on which university they go to, and whether they do or don’t do an intercalated BSc in their training. The course structure can vary but usually involves the first 2- 3 years or so doing medical sciences e.g., anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, therapeutics etc, and then the next 3-4 years doing clinical medicine and working through many of the specialities.

So, if you tot it all up, from entering medical school or university it takes a minimum of 11 years before you can practice independently as a GP. Thankfully, there are still lots of eager young doctors keen to study hard and compete to qualify so we will have well trained doctors looking after us into our old age.