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Chief Registrar Programme

What we are doing

The RCP Chief Registrar Programme is a flagship leadership development programme for trainee doctors who are committed to quality improvement. 

The Chief Registrar role is a senior leadership role for doctors. The programme develops the clinical leaders of the future and helps chief registrars to ensure NHS organisations deliver the highest quality of treatment and care for patients.

One of the key recommendations highlighted by the Future Hospital Commission report was the need to create a new, senior leadership role for trainee doctors, which would focus on delivering high-quality, safe patient care.

The RCP responded by establishing the Chief Registrar Programme, a role that provides protected time for doctors in training to practice leadership and quality improvement while remaining in clinical practice. The role is supported by a bespoke 10-month development programme designed and delivered by the RCP. 

Chief registrars: 

  • provide a vital bridge between senior clinical leaders, managers and the wider trainee workforce
  • address local challenges and priorities around service improvement, education and training, engagement and morale, workforce and sustainability
  • collaborate across teams and traditional boundaries to deliver better outcomes for patients, teams and services, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. 


Expressions of interest for 2024/25 are now closed. Guidance is available for trusts and for trainees. You can also read the previous experiences of our cohorts in the yearbook.

Key criteria for recruitment:

  • open to all physician and non-physician specialties
  • doctors in training must be minimum ST4 level or equivalent
  • posts must be for a minimum of 12 months
  • doctors in training must have 40-50% of their time protected for chief registrar activities
  • the role may be carried out in programme or out of programme (training or experience). 

To find out more about the chief registrar programme as an NHS organisation or trainee, please email chiefregistrar@rcp.ac.uk

What the programme involves

The 10-month programme consists of five 2-day modules taught by RCP educationalists and experts in quality improvement. Modules will be spread over the course of the programme and cover the following topics: 

  • change management
  • team culture and development
  • quality improvement
  • leadership
  • influencing
  • personal resilience. 

As a result of the development programme, chief registrars will: 

  • gain aptitude and confidence as senior leaders
  • achieve a deeper understanding of their own and others’ styles 
  • have the technical knowledge and skills to lead continuous quality improvement
  • be invited to join the Chief Registrar Alumni Network, where you can meet other chief registrars from different year groups, attend exclusive webinars and workshops and continue to engage with the RCP.

We have guidance available for recruiting organisations and further information for trainees

What we have produced

Information about the RCP's Chief Registrar Programme for trainees interested in applying.

From mentoring a chief registrar to life-long colleagues, Dr Rachel Tennant reflects on her experience of being a chief registrar mentor over the last three years.

Dr Gareth Lewis, chief registrar mentor at Antrim Area Hospital, Northern Ireland shares seven helpful steps as a chief registrar mentor to help chief registrars succeed!

Information for NHS organisations interested in recruiting RCP chief registrars.

Insights, learning and resources from current and former participants in the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) Chief Registrar Programme. 

Dr Carlo Prina reflects on his experience of being a chief registrar mentor over the past two years and outlines some key benefits of having a chief registrar at Homerton University Hospital.

Dr Zoe Burton provides an insight into what a typical week looks like for her as a chief registrar and anaesthetics trainee at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. 
The findings of a specially commissioned report produced by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, which set out to independently evaluate the impact of the Royal College of Physician's (RCP's) scheme on the chief registrars, the individuals and teams they work with, and their wider organisations.
Dr Ananthakrishnan Raghuram, consultant chest physician, outlines his experience of recruiting two chief registrars in Cheltenham General Hospital in the first year of the Future Hospital chief registrar scheme.

In this series of case studies, a selection of trusts share their experiences of joining the first cohort of the chief registrar scheme.