Intended for healthcare professionals

Careers Careers Clinic

What do I need to do to become a consultant?

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 14 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m94
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ
  1. arimmer{at}

Making the leap from trainee to consultant can be daunting, but there is much you can do to prepare for the change, experts tell Abi Rimmer

“Do some groundwork before you start”

David Oliver, consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine

“My tips begin before you start as a consultant. First, pick your job wisely by doing due diligence before you apply. How well do the team of consultants get on? How supportive are they of one another? Do they share a similar vision and values? Are they respected and supported by the rest of the organisation outside the department? What is the overall position of the organisation itself in the wider health economy? How has it been performing in terms of finance, targets, and inspections? Most of all, does it seem like a happy place to work when you speak to people?

“This fact finding should also extend to your interview and appointment process. You will have a chance to ask questions that matter to you, so ask, for example, how much support you would get for developing a new service or improving an existing one. What personal development opportunities are available in research, quality improvement, and education? If you need to go less than full time for any reason, is the culture supportive?

“Once you have started in your new post, think about the requirements that are specific to consultants (such as the training to become a trainer) and get up to speed with them in your first few months. …

View Full Text