What is an F1? Doctor titles explained

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Even within the medical profession, the sheer number of titles can often complicate things! That’s largely due to Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) which occurred in 2005, resulting in a mix of both old and new terms floating around.

To help you better understand the system, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of doctor titles and their abbreviations below: 

Let’s start with a simple one. You’re likely to have heard the term “Junior doctor” mentioned frequently in a medical setting, whether in a hospital or a GP surgery. Junior doctor can actually be used to describe any doctor who is below Consultant level, whether they are currently posted in a training or non-training role. And if a doctor is in a training role, they will always be referred to as a junior doctor. In fact, it’s often a bone of contention since junior doctors can have more than five years of training under their belts, but still, be known as a “junior doctor”. Not to mention members of the public who (wrongly) believe they are fresh-faced medical students! 

As we explain the abbreviations in more detail, it’s helpful to make a distinction between training roles and non-training roles.

TRAINING ROLES

F1, F2, FY1, FY2, FY

These are all terms used to describe a doctor who is part of the UK Foundation Programme, which typically involves two years of training, hence the use of 1 and 2. 

CT1, CT2, CT3

This refers to a “core trainee” or a doctor who is at the start of an uncoupled specialty training programme. After this core training element is complete, the doctor can go on to pursue higher training in their chosen specialty. 

ST1, ST2

Unlike the CT (core trainees), an ST1 or ST2 is a specialty trainee and therefore part of a “run-through” programme. This means that once they have applied for and completed ST1, they’ll automatically continue to a higher specialty training programme. 

ST3 – ST9

Higher specialty training can begin at ST3 or ST4, depending on the pathway chosen. At this stage of their career, STs will often be amongst the most senior doctors on-site for their specialism and will have the extra responsibility that comes with that. 

LAT

This stands for Locum Appointment for Training and occurs when a doctor takes a place on a 12-month training programme. This can happen for a range of reasons, for example, if the doctor who was originally taking the training course goes on maternity leave or sick leave. The locum will therefore only remain in this post for one year. 

PRHO

Also known as “house officer.” This is an old term for an F1 which you may occasionally come across.

Post-CCT clinical fellow

CCT is the Certificate of Completion of Training that doctors receive when they complete their training programme. At this stage, if a doctor wishes to pursue further training – in a subspecialty, for example – then they will be known as a Post-CCT clinical fellow. 

NON-TRAINING ROLES

When it comes to doctors in non-training roles, there are no set rules for titles – which can make things a tad confusing! Typically they will be given the same title as their training counterparts, to give some guidance on their level of expertise and knowledge. 

SHO

Similarly to PRHO, this is an old term that means Senior House Officer. It can be used to refer to any doctor in a junior role, and usually, one that is a non-training job. The modern equivalent that you’re more likely to hear is Junior clinical fellow. 

SpR, Registrar

Another old term meaning Specialty Registrar. The equivalent in modern medical titles is ST3 and higher, although it’s important to note that this term can be used for both trainees and non-trainees. 

LAS

This stands for Locum Appointment for Service and usually occurs when a locum is needed to fill a gap in service in a hospital. 

Trust grade

A term commonly used in job posts. If a job is advertised as “trust grade CT1”, for example, this means that it is at the level of a CT1 but is not a training role. 

Senior clinical fellow

You might remember that we talked about post-CCT fellows, who are doctors pursuing further subspecialty training. Senior clinical fellow is a title often used in job posts for doctors who are at the level of ST3 and above, but who have not completed the UK training programme. 

SENIOR DOCTORS

GP

A very common term which means General Practitioner: this is probably the type of doctor that the general public are most familiar with. The route to becoming a GP typically includes two years in the Foundation Programme and a further three years of GP specific training.

Consultant 

When a doctor attains the position of Consultant, it means that they have completed all of the training required for their specialism. As such, this role carries with it a great deal of responsibility in the hospital. 

Consultants can be split into two types: Substantive, which is a permanent position and requires the consultant to be on the Specialist Register; and Locum, which is a temporary role that can end at any time, and doesn’t require a doctor to be part of the Specialty Register. Of course, they will still need to prove they have completed the training necessary to assume their post. It will generally be a Substantive Consultant who takes on teaching roles alongside his clinical duties in order to help train the next generation of doctors. 

SAS

This abbreviation stands for Specialty and Associate Specialist. These doctors are not part of a training programme, but they will have four years of training under their belts – including two years in their specialty. Unlike most of the doctor training roles mentioned above, an SAS post is a permanent job. If a doctor chooses not to apply for registration as a consultant, they are essentially an SAS. They will work at the same level but are often known as “middle grade” doctors.

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