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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?