CESR vs CCT: Alternative Surgical Training pathways


“Sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees.”

There are two routes to becoming a consultant specialist in the UK. The first involves undergoing the UK-specific specialty training programme, culminating in the attainment of a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). Alternatively, the second less conventional pathway involves securing a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) – typically reserved for medical practitioners whose experience and skills are on par with that of UK-based consultants, albeit not having undergone a UK specialty training programme.

Those who opt for CESR are often experienced professionals who are disinclined to participate in the lengthy process of specialty training and certification within the UK. This route is particularly attractive to three typical persona groups: IMGs who have completed their specialist training programmes abroad, doctors with significant experience in their respective specialities but have yet to complete specialty training, and those who have been unsuccessful in prior specialty applications.

To obtain a CESR, one must compile a portfolio to showcase their equivalent experience, knowledge, and skills to a fully GMC-approved trained consultant. This requires evidence of competency in specific procedures, attendance of relevant courses, and successful completion of all requisite exams. Essentially, the CESR process mandates the compilation of a comprehensive portfolio containing demonstrable proof of proficiency. The nature of these demands, naturally, varies in specificity and detail depending on the surgical specialty in question. More information on detailed CESR requirements can be found on the Joint Commission on Surgical Training website (https://www.jcst.org/cesr/).

The CESR route is intended to take an equivalent or shorter time to achieve than the CCT route; however, to achieve this, one must be mindful of the demands and requirements outlined by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the related Royal Colleges. Although this pathway may seem like an attractive alternative to the demanding CCT training, it is vital to note that due to its flexibility, it may end up taking longer than the CCT route to ultimately achieve consultant status.

While both pathways require hard work and dedication, it is crucial to choose the route that resonates with your aspirations and aligns with your personal situation. Ultimately, this website focuses on the CCT route for general and vascular surgery, with an entry point of ST3 level.

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