Career Support

A Specialty Doctor and Specialist role comparison

Specialty Doctor and Specialist grade posts are frequently offered to experienced international doctors joining the NHS. Both are senior positions which offer the possibility for those wishing to develop themselves to apply for Consultant posts and inclusion on the GMC Specialist Register via the CESR route.

This article describes both roles and their differences.

What is the role of a Specialty Doctor in the NHS?

The Specialty Doctor group is diverse with different levels of knowledge, clinical skills, training, performance and needs – both educational and career-wise – and has from 4 years of post-graduate experience to 20+ years.

In comparison with a Consultant, Specialist or Trainee, a great portion of Specialty Doctors’ time is directed towards patient care/clinical duties and less to non-clinical responsibilities. They may also fulfil a wider role engaging in the teaching and training of others, research and academic work, service development modernisation, audit, and committee/representative work.

Specialty doctors are required to actively engage in continued professional development activities (CPD) both internally and externally to their organisations.

What is the role of a Specialist in the NHS?

A Specialist is a senior and experienced clinician that provides expertise in a specialised area, whether delivering care in a specific specialty or in a generalist service, and will manage the full range of presentations in their area of practice.

Their role primarily focuses on providing direct clinical care and meeting service delivery and improvement requirements. Specialists will also be supported by having suitable development opportunities, including management roles and leadership responsibilities in teaching, academic research and service development.

Details of the balance between a Specialists clinical care and the other elements of their role would be discussed during the job planning process.

In addition to this, Specialists are expected to be involved in delivering teaching and training others. They will be able to work as a member of a multi-disciplinary team, leading MDTs where appropriate and are required to actively engage in CPD activities both internally and externally in their organisations.

To discuss the Specialty Doctor and/or Specialist positions available in your specialty, contact us.