Medical Council logoComhairle na nDochtúirí Leighis | Medical Council

FAQs

  • School Students

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    If you are considering a career in medicine, we hope that this website provides a helpful overview of the structure of medical education and training in Ireland, and the range of career options available to you as you progress and develop.

    After completing your medical degree and internship, you will have a range of options which will allow you to focus on those areas of medicine which you are most interested in. There are 52 recognised medical specialties in Ireland, and in order to become a specialist in one or more of these areas, you will have to complete the necessary specialist training, which will be delivered by one of 13 recognised postgraduate medical training bodies (PGTBs).

    After completing your medical degree and internship, you will have a range of options which will allow you to focus on those areas of medicine which you are most interested in. There are 52 recognised medical specialties in Ireland, and in order to become a specialist in one or more of these areas, you will have to complete the necessary specialist training, which will be delivered by one of 13 recognised postgraduate medical training bodies (PGTBs).

    How do I become a doctor?

    If you are reading this website, there is a strong chance that you have already considered becoming a doctor. For students in Ireland, entry to medical school is administered through the Central Applications Office (CAO). In addition to your performance in the Irish Leaving Certificate (or its equivalent), you will also be required to pass the Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT). The closing date for 2015 applications is February 1st for both, further information is available from the CAO & HPAT websites. You can find other sources of information in relation to accessing medical degree courses on the ‘Disability Access Route to Education’ (DARE) & ‘Higher Education Access Route’ (HEAR) websites.

     Where can I study medicine in Ireland?

    To learn more about the medical schools in Ireland, and entry to five or six year medical degree courses, visit the websites of the six medical schools:

    Note: The duration of courses stated above may vary for each student. Some students may be exempt from the foundation year, based on their academic subjects and/or grades that they have achieved prior to admission. For students who don't benefit from this particular exemption, the duration of their degree course may increase by a year.

    Note: The duration of courses stated above may vary for each student. Some students may be exempt from the foundation year, based on their academic subjects and/or grades that they have achieved prior to admission. For students who don't benefit from this particular exemption, the duration of their degree course may increase by a year.

    Note: The duration of courses stated above may vary for each student. Some students may be exempt from the foundation year, based on their academic subjects and/or grades that they have achieved prior to admission. For students who don't benefit from this particular exemption, the duration of their degree course may increase by a year.

    Who is responsible for ensuring the quality of my medical degree?

    We are. Every medical degree programme delivered in Ireland is required to meet our standards, which are based upon the World Federation for Medical Education’s Global Standards for Quality Improvement in Medical Education (European Specifications). These standards set requirements for programmes, and for the medical schools delivering the programmes. Read more about our Quality Assurance

    I am an international student - can I apply to Medical Schools in Ireland?

    Yes - there may be additional entry requirements for international applicants. This is explained in each medical school’s prospectus, available on their websites. For a summary of the requirements please see the page on entry requirements

  • Graduate Entry

    If you have already completed a degree programme, you may wish to build upon your experience and training to date, and complete an additional degree in medicine. As long as you achieved a minimum of a 2.1 in any degree, you will be eligible to apply to a medical school which delivers a graduate-entry programme. It is your overall performance in your previous degree, which is counted. Many graduates who have entered graduate-entry programmes have benefitted from the broad skills of time-management, and familiarity with assessment and exams, which they have developed through their primary degree.

    I already have a degree - can I still become a doctor?

    Yes - there are four courses in Ireland specifically tailored for graduates and are of four years’ duration. These programmes are available in the following medical schools -

    Does the subject of my primary degree matter?

    No - If you already hold a degree, and achieved a minimum of a 2.1 in your degree, then you are eligible to apply. The subject of your primary degree does not matter as there is no evidence to suggest that holders of, for example science-related degrees perform any better than holders of non-science degrees. As part of the individual entry requirements to the four programmes listed above, you may be required to pass an additional test and/or meet with an interview panel. You should refer to each medical school’s prospectus for their specific requirements.

    I am an international graduate – am I eligible to apply to a graduate entry programme?

    Yes - you should refer to the medical schools for their specific entry requirements.

  • Undergraduate


    You are about to embark on a challenging, yet rewarding, course of study which will equip you with the competencies you need to begin your medical career. As you will be interacting with patients from an early stage, you will develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary for a medical career.

    What can I expect as a medical student?

    Medical courses involve academic study and hospital-based study, both theoretical and practical, with time spent studying in your medical school, in teaching hospitals and other clinical training sites.

    What sort of clinical training sites will be involved in my education and training?

    Major teaching hospitals, smaller affiliated hospitals, general practice settings and community sites (e.g. clinics) will provide you with practical and theoretical instruction during your training. The amount of time you spend at clinical training sites will increase as you progress through the course, as will opportunities for contact with patients.

    What does a typical medical programme involve?

    Programmes vary in specific content but will include a combination of lectures, tutorials, small group teaching, problem-based learning, and student-selected modules that allow you to pursue your own interests. You will learn to work as a member of a team alongside other healthcare students. You will also learn how to be a professional and start your lifelong commitment to the high standards of ethical and professional behaviour.

    How can I be sure that my course reaches high standards?

    All medical schools in Ireland and their medical degree courses are accredited and monitored by us. The feedback from medical students is a key element of our assessment process.

    It’s my final year in medical school – what comes next for me?

    Your degree course will prepare you for becoming a registered doctor. After graduation, most doctors will immediately proceed to complete a period of highly supervised education and training known as an internship, where they will continue to learn and deliver patient care. Your medical school will advise us that you are close to completing your degree, and will provide us with your contact details so that we can contact you in relation to the registration process. In order to practise medicine in Ireland, including practising as an intern, you must be appropriately registered with the Medical Council. You can learn more about intern training under the ‘intern’ section of this website. Please remember that you must be registered with the Medical Council in order to commence intern training. It is an offence to practice medicine while unregistered.

    What is an intern training post?

    Intern training posts are made up of a series of rotations (clinical placements) which, on completion, will provide you with the necessary competencies, skills and experience to receive a Certificate of Experience , and to progress in your medical career.

    Am I guaranteed an intern training post after I qualify?

    No. Qualifying from a medical school does not guarantee an intern training post. In Ireland, access to intern training is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) through a national matching system. At the application stage, you will be able to view every available post, and the specifics of each post including the composition of rotations, and the geographical location of each rotation. You will be asked to rank in order of preference the posts that you are interested in. If you are successful in your application, you will have your intern training mapped out for you, and you will know in advance where your training will be located. Each intern training post is proposed to the Medical Council for our approval, and this ensures that each intern training post meets our intern training standards. Applying for intern training posts is a competitive process, and you will be required to meet certain eligibility criteria as determined by the HSE. Further information can be found on the HSE website. Your medical school will be able to provide additional advice on the intern application process, and the associated timelines for applying.

    Is it important that I complete an internship?

    Yes. Doctors who successfully complete an internship in Ireland are entitled to receive a document known as a Certificate of Experience . A Certificate of Experience is required in order to continue in structured medical training in Ireland, and in most other jurisdictions. A Certificate of Experience, when combined with your medical degree, entitles you to automatic registration in EU/EEA countries.

    What is a typical internship programme?

    In Ireland, an internship a minimum of 12 months. During this time, you will spend a minimum of three months working in general medicine, and a minimum of three months working in general surgery. The remainder of your internship will be spent working in a combination of specialist rotations in areas such as paediatrics and anaesthesia. During your internship, you will complete your rotations across a number of different training sites, which may mean moving between hospitals and other clinical sites after two, three or four months, depending on your intern training post. Each training post is made up of a number of rotations, and is constructed in such a way that you will gain the necessary training experience as defined by us in our intern standards and guidelines.

    Can you tell me more about the Medical Council’s intern standards and guidelines?

    Our standards and guidelines outline our requirements for the content of your intern training and the environment in which you train, including the following requirements

    • the range of core specialties which are appropriate for interns to gain experience in
    • the minimum duration of intern training
    • the requirement for training sites to be affiliated to medical schools
    • the requirement for intern posts to have a strong educational component, including formal education and training
    • the requirement for regular assessments, and constructive feedback following assessments

    View the World Federation for Medical Education's (WFME) Standards in Basic Medical Education here.

    • the range of core specialties which are appropriate for interns to gain experience in
    • the minimum duration of intern training
    • the requirement for training sites to be affiliated to medical schools
    • the requirement for intern posts to have a strong educational component, including formal education and training
    • the requirement for regular assessments, and constructive feedback following assessments

    View the World Federation for Medical Education's (WFME) Standards in Basic Medical Education here.

    View the World Federation for Medical Education's (WFME) Standards in Basic Medical Education here.

  • Intern


    The intern year is the foundation stone of your future development as a doctor. Once you become an intern, you have made the transition from being a student, to becoming a doctor. You are on track towards completing a year of structured training, leading to the award of a Certificate of Experience; you are now most likely considering the next stage of your development as a doctor. As such, a number of organisations share the responsibility for the content and delivery of training in this formative year. These organisations include the medical schools, postgraduate training bodies, the HSE and of course, ourselves.

    How do I apply for an intern post?

    In Ireland, access to intern training is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) through a national matching system. Intern training posts are made up of a series of rotations (clinical placements) which, on completion, will provide you with the necessary competencies, skills and experience to receive a Certificate of Experience, and to progress in your medical career. At the application stage, you will be able to view every available post, and the specifics of each post including the composition of rotations, and the geographical location of each rotation. You will be asked to rank in order of preference the posts that you are interested in. If you are successful in your application, you will have your intern training mapped out for you, and you will know in advance where your training will be located. Each intern training post is proposed to the Medical Council for our approval, and this ensures that each intern training post meets our intern training standards. Applying for intern training posts is a competitive process, and you will be required to meet certain eligibility criteria as determined by the HSE.

    What is the Medical Council’s role in the intern year?

    Our primary role is to set and monitor the standards for all aspects of your internship, including the standards which must be met by the clinical sites which are involved in the delivery of your training. We have inspected and approved all clinical sites in Ireland where intern training is provided.  Please remember that you must be registered with the Medical Council in order to commence intern training. It is an offence to practice medicine while unregistered.

    Is it important that I complete an internship?

    Yes. Doctors who successfully complete an internship in Ireland are entitled to receive a document known as a Certificate of Experience. This certificate when combined with your medical degree entitles you to automatic registration in EU countries. A Certificate of Experience is required in order to continue in structured medical training in Ireland, and in most other jurisdictions. 

    Do I have to complete my internship in Ireland?

    To maximise your future training and employment opportunities, it is important that you complete an internship which is recognised to be of a high standard. For the purposes of registering to practise medicine in Ireland, and depending on the type of registration which you are applying for (eg. trainee specialist), you must have completed your training in a country whose own intern training standards are similar to those in Ireland. We have assessed a number of countries and confirmed a number of overseas internships which are equivalent to Irish internships.

    What are my options after completing my internship?

    You will now be eligible to register in the General Division of the medical register, and practise independently or you can choose to continue structured training by applying for a programme of specialist medical training with a postgraduate training body. All postgraduate training bodies must meet Medical Council postgraduate accreditation standards and criteria. There are over forty programmes of specialist training in Ireland that you can choose from, delivered by thirteen recognised training bodies, as follows –

    When you complete your programme of specialist training, you will be awarded a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training by your training body, and be eligible to register and practice as a specialist in your chosen field.

    When you complete your programme of specialist training, you will be awarded a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training by your training body, and be eligible to register and practice as a specialist in your chosen field.

    What does a typical programme of specialist training involve?

    As a specialist trainee, you will generally complete your training in two distinct phases – a period of basic specialist training (BST) followed by a period of higher specialist training (HST). For the duration of your training, you will rotate between different clinical sites which will support certain aspects of your training, and provide you with the necessary training opportunities to progress through the programme. These ‘rotations’ will generally be of a duration of between six months and one year. Some training programmes and training bodies focus exclusively on training at BST or HST level only. The specific details of the content, structure and duration of programmes will be available in each programme prospectus, available on each training body’s website.

    How do I apply for a training programme?

    You can apply directly to a training body which will each define their own entry criteria. In most cases you will be interviewed as part of the process. You should note that, for certain programmes, demand for places may exceed supply.

    Do I have to pursue specialist training?

    We encourage the pursuit of specialist training, however, we realise that this may not always be possible or of interest. You can practice as a doctor outside of the specialist training structure in a range of posts. Whichever way your career develops, you will be required to demonstrate your commitment to, and engagement with, continuing professional development by engaging in professional competence activities.

    Can you tell me more about the Medical Council’s intern standards and guidelines?
  • Postgraduate

    Throughout your intern training, you will have gained experience within the broad categories of medicine and surgery, and may also have gained exposure to a number of specialties within these categories. During this time, you may have identified a particular training and career pathway which appeals to you, and which plays to your strengths. The way in which you will become a specialist doctor in a particular discipline is through completion of a programme of specialist training, leading to registration on the Specialist Division of the Register

    Who is responsible for the quality of my postgraduate training?

    The thirteen postgraduate training bodies are each responsible for the delivery of specialist training in Ireland, and are accountable to us. We set and monitor the standards which must be met by the bodies themselves, and by each programme of specialist training.

    Between 2011 and 2013, we completed our first phase of postgraduate accreditations under our present legislation. We have now assessed the strengths of each training body in their general ability to deliver specialist training to the necessary accreditation standards. Following each accreditation meeting, we issued recommendations to each training body which will help to maintain and improve the overall standard of training. 

    All remaining programmes of specialist training which are delivered by each training body continue to be recognised by Council until such time as they have been formally evaluated.

    Between 2011 and 2013, we completed our first phase of postgraduate accreditations under our present legislation. We have now assessed the strengths of each training body in their general ability to deliver specialist training to the necessary accreditation standards. Following each accreditation meeting, we issued recommendations to each training body which will help to maintain and improve the overall standard of training. 

    All remaining programmes of specialist training which are delivered by each training body continue to be recognised by Council until such time as they have been formally evaluated.

    All remaining programmes of specialist training which are delivered by each training body continue to be recognised by Council until such time as they have been formally evaluated.

    What happens when I complete my postgraduate training?

    You will be awarded a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training (CSCST) by your training body and this will entitle you to register and practice as a specialist in your chosen field.

    I completed my medical degree outside Ireland – can I pursue specialist training in Ireland?

    Yes. You will be required to meet the necessary registration requirements to pursue specialist training in the first instance. You will also be required to apply for a place on a programme of specialist training, entry to which is competitive. You should refer to the individual websites of the 13 recognised training bodies, listed above, for further details on programmes and entry requirements. The training bodies will also be able to clarify the work visa requirements for non-EU applicants.