Surgical training in the Republic of Ireland is different to that in the United Kingdom. The structure of the training system in the Republic was outlined by Prof Frank Keane (PRCSI 2008-09) in his address to the ASGBI International Congress, 2008 and comprehensively reviewed by Mr Patrick Broe in the ASGBI newsletter of December 2008.

Briefly the Republic of Ireland has six medical schools (University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork and the University of Limerick) with a mixture of traditional and graduate entry programmes. Surgical training begins with an internship of one year followed by a two year Basic Surgical Training (BST) programme for which there is competitive entry. At the end of the BST trainees are awarded a Certificate of Completion of Basic Surgical Training (CCBST) and are expected to have passed the MRCSI diploma. The next 2 to 3 years (the “gap” years) are spent in research and some clinical work before competitive entry into a National Higher Surgical Programme (HST), which lasts for 5 to 6 years. The current HST programmes include: cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery, neurosurgery, otolaryngology head & neck surgery, urology, paediatric surgery, plastic reconstructive & aesthetic surgery, and trauma & orthopaedic surgery. Having completed HST, the trainee is awarded a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) by the Irish Surgical Postgraduate Training Committee (ISPTC) and is eligible to sit the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination. Frequently, trainees will then spend 1 to 2 years as Fellows in a specialist centres overseas before competitive appointment to consultant posts. Thus, it takes 10 to 12 years to train to be a consultant surgeon in Ireland.

Whilst BST and HST trainees are employed all over Ireland the training programmes are centralised and organised by the Postgraduate Faculties of the RCSI with the help of regional vice-deans, under the auspices of the ISPTC.
For BSTs training is provided under three heading:

  1. Surgical knowledge and professional development
  2. Technical skills and operative experience
  3. Workplace performance

A variety of tools are available for training including distance learning (School for Surgeons and BeST Online, e-logbook), courses (Operative Surgical Skills, Human Factors) and supervised operative performance.

Higher Surgical Training varies form specialty to specialty and each specialty is organised by a programme director with annual review and counselling for the trainees.

For more information please see: RCSI Surgical Training Programmes at: