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Chief Registrar Programme: information for trainee doctors

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This year we are delighted to announce that the Chief Registrar Programme is now open to trainees ST4+ or equivalent including those who do not hold a national training number! 

RCP Chief Registrar Programme

Dr Aaisha Saqib, 2019-20 chief registrar, shares her experience of the RCP Chief Registrar Programme, the value her hospital received from the programme and why people should sign up to become a chief registrar.

What do chief registrars do? 

Chief registrars work in clinical practice and have 40 to 50% of their time protected to develop, lead and support projects which focus on key local challenges and priorities. This may include service improvement, engagement and morale, education and training, workforce and sustainability. 

Read the chief registrar 2022-23 yearbook for a snapshot of some of the projects led by chief registrars.

What are the benefits?

Benefits of being a chief registrar include:

  • greater skills and confidence in leadership, management and quality improvement through the RCP development programme
  • valuable evidence for consultant job applications of applying leadership, management and service improvement skills in practice
  • ability to gain leadership and management experience while remaining in clinical practice
  • mentorship from a senior clinical leader in the organisation
  • unique insight into NHS structures and management processes that is rare in clinical training
  • peer support from the strong community of chief registrars, which is a great source of ideas for projects and advice on issues and challenges
  • opportunity to act on and test ideas to improve outcomes for patients, teams and services, supported by the knowledge of how to do this effectively using quality improvement methodology
  • chance to make a difference for trainees by improving their working lives and making sure their voice is heard. 

Chief registrars also benefit from the autonomy to focus on their own areas of interest, and the flexibility to manage their time appropriately to balance clinical and chief registrar commitments. 

The chief registrar role is challenging and demanding. However, the opportunities for personal and professional development and support are abundant, and help chief registrars overcome any challenges they face. 

The chief registrar role has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It has allowed me to mentor and represent trainees while immersing myself in quality improvement with the help and support from senior leaders.

Dr Stanislav Hadjivassilev, chief registrar at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

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). 

Becoming a chief registrar

Chief Registrar Programme 2024/25

Expressions of interest for recruiting NHS organisations for the 2024/25 are now closed.  Local recruitment will be running until mid June 2024 (deadlines decided individually at trust level). If you are interested in applying for a role, please see list of posts by trusts available under the download section at the end of this webpage.

Getting a new NHS organisation on board 

If you want to approach an NHS organisation about establishing a chief registrar role, talk to your training programme director (TPD) in the first instance. Then contact the organisations medical director (or relevant deputy) and direct them to the information for recruiting organisations, where you can also find information to support a business case.

Please bear in mind that organisations run open and competitive recruitment processes. Therefore, there is a possibility your application may not be successful. 

RCP Chief Registrar Programme podcast

Listen to two RCP chief registrar alumni, Will and Lily, talk about their unique experience of taking part in the programme in different parts of the UK, Birmingham (University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust) and London (Barts Health NHS Trust), specialising in completely different areas of medicine. They share why they signed up, what the programme was really like, and explain how they grew as a person as well as a leader. Listen to the podcast here.