Guide to good practice

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Specialty doctor
Standard person specification

Extracted from: Employing and supporting specialty doctors - a guide to good practice

Standard person specification for a specialty doctor post

Entry Criteria



Assess by



MBBS or equivalent medical qualification



Eligible for full registration with the GMC at time of appointment.
Evidence of achievement of Foundation competencies by time of appointment in line with GMC standards in Good Medical Practice including:

  • good clinical care

  • good relationships and communication with patients

  • good working relationships with colleagues

  • good teaching and training

  • professional behaviour and probity

  • delivery of good acute clinical care

Evidence of achievement of ST1/CT1 competences in a relevant specialty at time of application and likelihood of achieving ST2/CT2 competences in a relevant specialty by the start date of the post (see notes).

Eligibility to work in the UK.


ST1/CT1 and ST2/CT2 training is delivered either through specialty training or through completion of two FTSTA fixed term specialty training appointment (FTSTA) years delivering equivalent of levels one and two of ST/CT.

Please check with the clinical director because in some specialties successful completion of two years of specialty or core training at levels one and two may not provide the employer with a doctor with the right skills to perform effectively in a specialty doctor post.

Fitness To Practise

Applicant’s knowledge is up to date and fit to practise safely

A (see notes) R, HS

A record of the GMC number and a declaration of no conditions on the license to practice or referrals to the GMC can be included on the application form.

Language Skills

All applicants to have demonstrable skills in written and spoken English that are adequate to enable effective communication about medical topics with patients and colleagues, which could be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • applicants have undertaken undergraduate medical training in English

  • applicants have scores in the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or equivalent equal to those required for recruitment to MMC specialty training programmes.

If applicants believe that they have adequate communication skills but do not fit into one of the examples they need to provide evidence (see notes).


The GMC requires all candidates for PLAB to satisfy their proficiency in English. By law, the GMC are not allowed to test the language proficiency of EEA nationals (other than the UK), Swiss nationals, and a couple of other groups exercising their rights of free movement within the EEA.
Most people are required to take the academic version of IELTS. A pass in IELTS is valid for two years. This standard is recommended for all doctors working within the NHS and is particularly important when recruiting doctors who have not previously worked in the UK.


Meets professional health requirements (in line with GMC standards in Good Medical Practice)

A, P, HS

Application Completion

ALL sections of application form FULLY completed


Clinical skills

(see notes)

Acute care safe: up-to-date ALS. Hospital at night team working / experience. Out of hours experience relevant to the job.
Relevant specialty clinical knowledge: capacity to apply sound clinical knowledge relevant to the job, specialty knowledge exam.
Clinical judgement: experience in making clinical decisions and managing risk. Knows when to seek help, able to prioritise clinical need.
Practical skills: shows aptitude for practical skills, required in the job.
Proven ability to work effectively in different clinical settings required in the job.

ALS instructors certificate

Specialty knowledge exam

A, P, C, I, R

It is expected that all doctors working out of hours and in an acute care setting should be acute care safe; demonstrated through an up-to-date ALS certificate or equivalent. This standard may not be essential for doctors working in community settings. However, all doctors should be able to demonstrate that they are acute care safe and up to date in resuscitation training.
An appropriate level of knowledge and application of this knowledge is essential for all doctors to be safe practitioners. It may not be essential for a specialty doctor to have passed a college exam but providing evidence of their knowledge and application of this knowledge should be required as part of the recruitment process.
Some jobs require specific clinical skills and personal attributes. These can be demonstrated through previous assessments such as manual dexterity and binocular vision required in some specialties: the clinical director will advise you.
This can be adapted depending on the job: an employer can specify outpatients, community, theatre outreach etc.
We recommend that all doctors work to the same standard. When a particular skill is required in a particular specialty doctor post then the employer can refer to the relevant college guidance and set a minimum standard of competence for the post thus maintaining the standard of patient care.

Specialty specific skills related to the post

Essential specialty specific competences for the post should be listed here (see notes) along with required evidence.

Help can be found at relevant specialty websites and at

Input should be sought from the clinical and/or medical director.

NB. Some skills may not be essential but would enhance the appeal of the candidate and these can be listed here.

A, P, C, I, R

We recommend that all doctors work to the same standard. When a particular skill is required in a particular specialty doctor post then the employer can refer to the relevant college guidance and set a minimum standard of competence for the post thus maintaining the standard of patient care.

Commitment to clinical governance / improving quality of patient care

Clinical governance: Capacity to be alert to dangers or problems. Demonstrates awareness of good decision making. Aware of own limitations. Track record of engaging in clinical governance: reporting errors, learning from errors.
Audit: evidence of active participation in audit.
Teaching: evidence of interest and experience in teaching where required in the job (see notes).

Research Skills: demonstrates understanding of the principles of research, evidence of relevant academic and research achievements (see notes).

Teaching: evidence of experience in teaching where required in the job.

A, I

This section provides the employer with an opportunity to describe additional features of the post that may make it attractive to candidates or to support the trust in delivering other requirement such as teaching and training.
Research skills are only likely to be relevant where there is a research component to the post, although a candidate may use their research experience to demonstrate their commitment to the specialty.

Communication skills

Effective communication skills: demonstrates clarity in written/spoken communication and capacity to adapt language as appropriate to the situation.
Empathy and sensitivity: capacity to listen and take in others’ perspectives.
Works in partnership with patients: always considers patients preferences when discussing treatment options.

Always considers the full impact of clinical decisions on the patients, Practice shared decision making.

Directs and supports patients to access the information they need to support decision making.

360 feedback
Patient survey feedback and reflections (see notes)

A,I, P

As patient feedback is not yet an essential part of a doctor’s assessment in training, hard evidence may not be available. However, attitudes can be assessed at interview and the portfolio may be submitted if it provides evidence of this. In the future we can expect to se development of patient feedback tools to support this work, which is a key part of any doctors’ practice in the modern NHS.

Personal skills

Team working: demonstrated experience working in a team, values the input of other professionals in the team.
Managing others & team involvement: capacity to work co-operatively with others and demonstrate leadership when appropriate. Capacity to work effectively in multi-professional teams.
Coping with pressure: capacity to operate under pressure. Demonstrates initiative and resilience to cope with setbacks & adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Problem solving & decision making: capacity to use logical/lateral thinking to solve problems & make decisions.
Organisation & planning: capacity to organise oneself and prioritise own work. Demonstrates punctuality, preparation and self-discipline. Understands importance of information technology.

Flexible approach to work: able to adapt and work with employers to deliver improved patient care.
Equality and diversity: promotes equality and values diversity

Leadership skills: experience in leadership
Demonstrates skills needed for effective delegation within the team: 360 feedback

Driver with a valid license (see notes)

A, I, R

If driving is a necessary part of the job this should be specified


Professional integrity and respect for others: capacity to take responsibility for own actions and demonstrate a non-judgmental approach towards others. Displays honesty, integrity, awareness of confidentiality and ethical issues.

A, I ,R

Commitment to ongoing professional development

Learning and personal development: demonstrates interest in the specialty required for the job. Demonstrates a commitment to maintaining professional skills and knowledge relevant to the job (see notes).
Demonstrates a willingness to fully engage in appraisal. Self-awareness and ability to accept and learn from feedback.

Extracurricular activities / achievements relevant to the job
Specialty exams (see notes)

A. I , P

Demonstrated commitment through appraisal. Personal development evident in application form and through work and training experience, courses attended, engagement with teaching during training.

College exams demonstrate a commitment and that a standard has been reached. However, we recommend they are desirable rather than essential for these posts because not all ST1/CT1and ST2/CT2 doctors will have the training to achieve the college exams in some specialties. Where a college exam is a pre-requisite of completion of ST1/CT1 and ST2/CT2 then an employer can consider this essential.


A=application form

HS = pre employment check and health screening



C=other documented evidence e.g. certificate, exam


Italics=recommended but not essential

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