An Associate in Training, or AiT, is a GP trainee who has decided to join the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) as a trainee member. All candidates who successfully complete the application process for specialty training in general practice will be invited to join the RCGP as AiTs, and although it is not compulsory, it comes with many benefits. Most trainees take advantage of the invitation, but those who do not can still register for all the MRCGP assessments and certification and have access to the Trainee ePortfolio.
Costs of joining the RCGP:
The overall costs of joining the RCGP as an AiT are £799, including the £145 fee paid upon initial subscription, and 3 separate payments of £218 in April of each Specialty Training (ST) year. In contrast, the cost of joining the RCGP as a non-AiT member is a one-off fee of £935.
Benefits of the AiT membership
When you become an AiT member of the RCGP, you gain many benefits that non-AiT members may not have access to or may have to pay additional fees for.
Educational benefits that come with an AiT membership include subscriptions to the InnovAiT journal and to the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP). The InnovAiT journal provides content designed to support the RCGP curriculum, and much of its content is incorporated into the compendium at the conclusion of the GP training programme, making it a very useful learning tool.
BJGP contains features that discuss current issues and advancements in general practice. The AiT membership grants access to all past issues of BJGP as well as the present ones, allowing trainees to stay up to date with the changes in general practice and use this information in their assessments, especially the Applied Knowledge test (AKT).
AiT members are also provided with E-newsletters such as:
Sevendays, a weekly professional newsletter, detailing any updates on guidance and policies in general practice
Journal Watch, a monthly digest of the ongoing research in general practice
AiT newsletter, a monthly newsletter informing on any changes in the GP training programme and new courses or events for AiTs
AiTs can attend educational streams specifically aimed for AiT members at the RCGP national conferences, as well as a variety of educational or social events specifically for AiTs offered by each local faculty.
There is a specific peer support network available to AiTs within their local faculty, whereby AiTs have access to trainee representatives through whom they can voice their concerns and raise issues with the faculty. This peer support system is present in each of the 31 RCGP faculties, as well as any additional support which varies between faculties. AiTs also have access to career support, a direct enquiry line and email address.
AiT trainees who wish to help shape the AiT community have the opportunity to do so by becoming representatives in the AiT committee. This committee ensures that AiTs can take part in the development of new policies and initiatives in the GP training programme. The committee also communicates with the postgraduate training board and other RCGP committees.
GP training in the UK
After obtaining a medical degree and completing foundation year training, or an equivalent programme, doctors may apply to join a GP training programme in their local deanery. Some doctors also complete 2 years of core medical training before deciding to apply for GP training, but this is not necessary. After successfully completing the application process, trainees enter the first year of their specialty training, ST1.
The usual duration of GP training is 3 years, out of which at least 18 months must be spent in approved hospital posts in specialties such as psychiatry, geriatric medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, and several others, and 18 months must be spent in general practice posts.
Although the standard duration of training is 3 years, there is an increasing number of 4-year options available for trainees to allow more experience in practice. Additionally, deaneries can help tailor training to trainee’s specific needs to ensure that the programme is effective and enables each individual trainee to become a confident GP.
The MRCGP assessments must be completed at the end of the GP training programme in order to receive a certificate of completion of training (CCT). The MRCGP consists of the Applied Knowledge Test, Workplace Based Assessments, and Clinical Skills Assessment.
Specialty trainee salary
Junior doctor basic salary, including GP trainee (and AiT) basic salary, ranges approximately from £39,467 to £50,017 in England, from £33,884 to £53,280 in Scotland, from £32,896 to £43,520 in Wales, and from £31,997 to £42,334 in Northern Ireland.
In England, the salary for each specialty trainee (junior doctor) in hospital posts is determined by their on-call commitment and amount of antisocial hours worked. In GP practice posts, there is a fixed premium of £8,965 added to the basic salary. Additionally, those who train in London will receive an allowance of £3,148 per year, and less-than-full-time trainees receive an allowance of £1,000 per year.
In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland the system for determining junior doctor salary is very similar, with differences in basic pay. The salary in hospital posts depends on which band a trainee belongs to, which is determined by their on-call and out-of-hours commitment. For trainees in GP posts, a fixed bonus of 45% is added to their basic pay regardless of year in training and on-call/out-of-hours commitment.
Additionally, the pay in Scotland, Wales and NI is determined by a doctor’s years of experience working in the NHS. The pay scale is divided into 6 pay points, StRMin to StR5, and there is an increase in pay of around £2,000-3,000 between each pay point (varies). If a trainee enters their first year of specialty training immediately after completing their foundation training, they will enter StRMin, and each year they will move up one pay point.
However, if a trainee completes 2 years of core training after their foundation years and before they begin their specialty training, they will enter into StR2 pay point in their ST1 year and will progress from there. Once a doctor enters pay point StR3, 5days are also added to their annual leave, increasing it from 27 days in StRMin-StR2, to 32 days from StR3 on.
Resources for AiTs
If you think you would like to become an AiT, or even if you have already decided, there are plenty of useful resources offered by the RCGP and other sources which can help you gain more insight into the position. A great starting resource to learn more about a career as an AiT is the AiT Handbook available on the RCGP website.
Once you have successfully completed your application for GP specialty training and joined the RCGP either as an AiT member or a non-member, you will also have access to the Trainee ePortfolio, where you will detail your clinical and personal progress throughout the programme. If you join as an AiT member, you will also benefit from the previously mentioned subscriptions to the InnovAiT journal and the BJGP.
To gain additional insight and hear more about doctors’ personal experiences with general practice and with training as AiTs, the RCGP produces podcasts such as “RCGP Somewhere in Between”, a podcast made by AiTs aimed for AiTs, or the “#TeamGP perspectives” podcast, which discusses personal experiences with working in general practice.
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