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Royal College of Physicians

royal college of physicians

With roots stretching as far back as Henry VIII, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is the largest of the medical Royal Colleges. Today the RCP represents over 27,500 physicians from 32 specialties who work in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of hospital medicine.

The RCP has many roles such as making sure the physician’s voice is heard in government, producing clinical guidelines and supporting physicians throughout their careers to develop skills and therefore improve patient care.

As part of the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK, at every stage of a physician’s career the RCP is there. The RCP offers career and development support from medical school through to consultant level, ensuring he or she has developed the skills and knowledge to treat patients safely and well.

Medical school

The RCP offers careers advice to those in the very earliest stages of their medical careers. Whether you have set your heart on a specific specialty or have not yet decided whether to be a cardiologist or dermatologist the experience within the RCP means that they offer a wide range of important careers information. The RCP also supports its medical student members by offering educational event sponsorship to help them further the education of their peers as well as discounted conference fees and online lectures.

Foundation years

As a foundation doctor you will face a number of difficult choices about which specialty you should choose and your general career path. The RCP has numerous career profiles, how to guides and webstreamed lectures to help foundation doctors expand their skills and find their way during this early stage of their development.

Core medical training (CMT)

The RCP hosts the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians’ Training Board which sets, reviews and assesses Core Medical Training (CMT). Doctors undertake CMT after medical school and after they have completed two foundation years.

MRCP(UK) examination

As part of the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK, the RCP hosts the internationally recognised MRCP(UK) examination which doctors usually sit at the end of their core medical training (CMT). Doctors must pass the MRCP(UK) to start specialist training and to become a physician.

Specialty certificate examination (SCEs)

After completing the MRCP(UK) examination, doctors begin specialty training and the final examination before becoming a physician is the Specialty Certificate Examinations (SCE) and this is managed by the RCP in conjunction with specialist societies.

Ongoing development

In addition to core medical training (CMT), the MRCP(UK) examination, specialty training and speciality certificate Examinations (SCE), the RCP offers a number of postgraduate and professional development courses. Physicians from any specialty can take the RCP’s Diploma in Tropical Medicine, Diploma in Geriatric Medicine, MSc in Medical Leadership or MSc in Medical Education.

International medical graduates

The RCP supports international medical graduates by organising Medical Training Initiative (MTI) places for non-EU doctors to practise in the UK for two years. The RCP also operates an international sponsorship scheme through which the RCP supports well-qualified and highly recommended doctors who wish to undertake training in the UK.

Membership and fellowship

There are a number of different levels of RCP membership starting with medical student membership which offers support whilst you are at medical school and foundation doctor membership for your foundation years. You can then apply for associate membership whilst you are sitting your MRCP(UK) exams for further assistance throughout the examination process.

Once you have passed the MRCP(UK) exam, you are eligible for collegiate membership which, amongst other things, allows you access to thousands of e-journals, free access to the online CPD diary scheme, copies of the Clinical Medicine journal and Commentary magazine and a regional, national and international support network. Affiliate membership is also open to doctors who haven’t taken the MRCP(UK), but are practising physicians, working in the UK.

To become a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, first you must be a practising consultant and have to be nominated by an existing fellow explaining why your contribution to medicine should be recognised. The nominee’s merits are then considered before the RCP council makes the final decision whether to elect him or her to the fellowship. Being a fellow of the RCP is the highest level of membership and benefits include the right to vote for councillors, officers and to attend the AGM, more educational and professional support tools and closer involvement with RCP policy making as well as the prestige of the FRCP postnominal.

Interested in becoming a physician and want to find out more about the RCP?

You can find out more about the RCP and its role in healthcare by visiting it's website, or e-mailing info@rcplondon.ac.uk.

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