Chief registrar scheme: information for trainees

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Information about the RCP's chief registrar scheme for trainees interested in applying. Recruitment information for 2020-21 will be updated soon.

Dr Akish Luintel, an RCP chief registrar, talks about how the scheme has allowed junior doctors to have a bigger voice in NHS organisations.

What do chief registrars do? 

Chief registrars remain in clinical practice and have 40–50% protected time to develop, lead and support projects focusing on key local challenges and priorities. For example, this may include service improvement, engagement and morale, education and training, workforce and sustainability issues.

Read the chief registrar 2018-19 yearbook for a snapshot of some of the projects former chief registrars have worked on. 

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. 

There is no doubt that the chief registrar role is challenging and demanding; chief registrars have told us so. However, the opportunities for personal/professional development and support are abundant, and help chief registrars overcome any challenges they face. 

One of the most enjoyable, stimulating and rewarding years; a chance to grow and develop in ways I probably have not even recognised.

Dr Abigail Ash, chief registrar at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, 2017–18

Key criteria for recruitment

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

Becoming a chief registrar

Chief registrar development scheme 2020/21

Chief registrar roles are recruited locally by individual NHS organisations. Information for recruitment for the 2020/21 chief registrar scheme will be updated shortly. 

Before making an application, you must discuss the role with your training programme director (TPD) and educational supervisor and obtain permission to apply. 

To register your interest in becoming a chief registrar and receive information about vacancies, please email

Establishing the role in a new organisation

If you want to approach an NHS organisation about establishing the chief registrar role, first talk to your training programme director (TPD). Then talk to the medical director of the organisation (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 are obliged to run open and competitive recruitment processes. Therefore, there is a possibility your application may not be successful.