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RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship Scheme

Providing a quality mark for surgical education

The transition from senior trainee to consultant can be a challenging step. RCS Senior Clinical Fellowships help bridge the gap. These peri-CCT Fellowships typically last for between six and 18 months, and are in a range of specialties.

RCS Senior Clinical Fellowships are jointly approved by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the appropriate Surgical Specialty Associations. The Fellowships normally focus on expert training in a sub-specialty, such as knee, skull base, or bariatric surgery.

The Fellowship Scheme was established in 2012. By June 2019 there were 75 Fellowship programmes with approval under the Scheme in the UK and abroad, across eight of the 10 surgical specialties. A survey in October 2019 of current RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship Scheme Fellows, their Supervisors, and recent former Fellows indicated high levels of approval for the Scheme. Ninety-four percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed “I am overall satisfied with the Scheme”. One current Fellow said: “It is providing me with good clinical experience that will help my transition to working as a consultant. Having the RCS endorsement adds credibility and weight to the fellowship on my CV.”

Applications for approval for a Fellowship programme are reviewed by the appropriate Surgical Specialty Association, Specialty Advisory Committee, and Training Programme Director. This review is to ensure a high quality training experience for the Fellow, and to ensure that more junior trainees in the same unit do not have their training opportunities undermined.

Applying to be a Fellow

If you would like to be a RCS Senior Clinical Fellow, you will need to contact the Supervisor / Lead Consultant of the Fellowship programme you are interested in. Ask the Supervisor / Lead Consultant if or when there is a vacancy for a Fellow. They will tell you how to apply, if appropriate. Please go to the appropriate Fellowship Specialty webpage listed below for more information.

Information for Fellows

Fellows are required to record their operations using the eLogbook. About three months after starting their post, the Fellow is asked to provide confidential interim feedback to the RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship Scheme on their experience in the Fellowship. This feedback is reviewed by the Fellowship Scheme.

When they have completed their Fellowship post, the Fellow is asked to provide their logbook and final feedback on their experience as a Fellow. Their Supervisor is asked to provide a statement about the Fellow's achievement of the learning outcomes and clinical competencies required for the Fellowship.

The Fellow's final feedback, logbook and Supervisor's sign-off are reviewed by the Scheme to determine the award of the Fellowship Certificate. The Certificate is awarded jointly by the RCS and the appropriate Surgical Specialty Association; the feedback is shared with the SSAs.

Fellows who are awarded their Certificate can either receive the Certificate at a RCS Diplomates' Ceremony, or the Certificate will be sent to them.

Financial Support for Fellows

Although Fellows are normally employed on a salary, they often face significant additional expenditure during their Fellowship. These costs can include additional accommodation and transport - and training and courses, for which financial assistance is no longer available for Post-CCT Fellows.

Some financial assistance may be available to help with RCS Education courses. The College offers a range of awards, grants and lectureships. Some Surgical Specialty Associations generously provide Fellows with financial assistance - it is worth asking the Association for your specialty if any help might be available.

We also provide someguidance on looking for support from charitable trusts and foundations.

Fellows from Outside the UK

About one-third of RCS Senior Clinical Fellows are from other European Union countries, and one-third are from non-EU countries. To work in the UK, Fellows must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Through the Medical Training Initiative’s International Surgical Training Programme, the RCSEng may be able to help non-EU medical graduates obtain GMC registration, and provide other assistance in enabling non-EU Fellows to work in the UK.

Current Fellowships

RCS Senior Clinical Fellowships are currently approved in these specialties:

See this guide for information about the Scheme's criteria and standards. See the National Fellowship Register for a full listing of approved RCS Senior Clinical Fellowships.

For further information please contact the RCS Quality Assurance Department at or on 020 7869 6236/6201

Comments from recent fellows

The Fellowship was excellent – the training and career development worked very well for me. I highly recommend it” - Laparoscopic Colorectal Fellow

The fellowship was very useful and has greatly enhanced my career” - Endovascular Fellow

The fellowship immensely helped in not just improving my overall experience but also the confidence to step up and take on more challenging roles” - Laparoscopic Colorectal Fellow

The RCS fellow gets to do an enormous amount of operating of complex cases with one to one supervision” - Neuro-oncological Surgery Fellow

My fellowship supervisors have been extremely supportive always are available for advice and are very approachable … I am now proud to be appointed as a Consultant Urological Surgeon” - Urological Robotic Fellow

Information for consultants

Perhaps you have spotted an opportunity for developing high quality sub-specialty training for surgeons around the CCT stage. Why not meet the challenge with a RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship? Approved under the RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship Scheme*, these Fellowships have a number of benefits, including:

  • Expert review by surgeons in the appropriate specialty
  • Assistance for you in attracting high calibre candidates
  • Assurance that posts offer a high quality learning experience, reflecting the standards set by the RCS, specialty associations and the ISCP
  • Interim and final monitoring of Fellows
  • Certification of Fellows, who can receive their Certificate at a RCS Diplomates' Ceremony
  • Listing on the National Fellowship Register
  • Use of the RCS Logo on course materials and website
  • Use of the strap line ‘This RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship post has been approved by the Royal College of Surgeons and [……] [specialty association(s)]
  • Listing in RCS Bulletin

To apply for Fellowship Approval, please visit the Accreditation Portal or contact the RCS Quality Assurance Department

The approval process

There are five main stages in the Fellowship approval process, outlined in the chart below. At each stage, the applicant may be asked to amend their fellowship programme. The time taken between initial application and final approval can take about four to six months, depending on the availability of reviewers, the straightforwardness of the application, and the timing of RCS meetings.

  1. Initial application
    Supervisor applies for fellowship approval or reapproval via the online application system.
  2. Initial review
    Initial desk-based review by the RCS to ensure the application is ready for specialty review.
  3. Specialty review
    Application review by the appropriate Surgical Specialty Association/s, Specialty Advisory Committee, and Training Programme Director.
    The application proceeds to RCS Quality Assurance Operational Group if the specialty reviewers recommend approval.
  4. Quality Assurance Operational Group
    Review by the RCS Quality Assurance Operational Group of the application and the specialty reviews.
    The application proceeds to RCS Council for final decision if QAOG recommends approval.
  5. RCS Council
    Final approval decision by RCS Council.
    If granted, fellowship approval lasts for three years.

*the title of the scheme was changed in April 2016 from the National Surgical Fellowship Scheme to the RCS Senior Clinical Fellowship Scheme

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