The training pathway

Surgery is an extremely popular career choice for medical students and entry to each surgical training stage is via a competitive selection process.

Depending on their training pathway, a plastic surgeon can expect to qualify in their early to mid-thirties.

Foundation programme- F1 & 2


After finishing medical school, trainees will spend two years in a foundation programme to gain experience in a variety of specialties and healthcare settings. By the time this is completed, trainees will have acquired full registration with the General Medical Council and can then apply for two years of core surgical training.  

Core surgical training- CT1 & 2


After two years of generic surgery training, which prepares trainees for higher specialist training, the trainee will then apply for their chosen sub-specialty training, involving a highly competitive national selection process. The selection process for plastic surgery is held twice a year and is often oversubscribed. Successful applicants will have obtained the MRCS (or AFRCS (Ed) / AFRCS(Glas) / FRCS (I)) and spent a minimum of six months in plastic surgery posts.  

Plastic surgery training – higher surgical training- ST3-7


Trainees will go on to undertake six years of plastic surgery training. To gain their Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), they are required to pass the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination (FRCS Plast). Upon gaining the CCT, doctors are then eligible to be placed on the GMC specialist register and are able to apply for consultant posts. Many plastic surgery trainees also complete a cosmetic fellowship following their CCT to enable them to perform aesthetic surgery.