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
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
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
Core medical training
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.
As part of the Federation of Royal Colleges of
Physicians of the UK, the RCP hosts the internationally recognised
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
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.
In addition to core medical training (CMT),
the MRCP(UK) examination, specialty training and speciality
certificate Examinations (SCE), the RCP offers a number of
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
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
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