The Training Experience

Specialty training in public health takes four years and 8 months for those without an MPH at the start of training and proportionately longer for those training less than full time (LTFT). For those new registrars who already have completed a Master’s in Public Health (MPH), the training time will be reduced to four years with entry into ST2 (2nd year) of the training Programme.

The West Midlands zone is divided into five areas:

  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Black Country
  • Hereford and Worcester
  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Staffordshire & Shropshire

The 2010 curriculum, available on the FPH website, is based on an understanding of what a consultant in public health needs to know and needs to be able to do. The curriculum helps you to build basic skills onto a knowledge platform and to consolidate those skills in increasingly complex work and diverse environments.


The Faculty of Public Health also approves some posts outside the United Kingdom for training purposes. It is possible for SpRs/SpTs to apply to rotate from the West Midlands Training Scheme to a national or overseas post once they have passed Part B MFPH.

You will progress through three training phases, each of which has specific milestones:

  • The first phase concentrates on the acquisition of knowledge relevant to public health practice and gives an opportunity for development of basic skills including basic health protection work.  Key milestones for satisfactory progress are the MPH and each constituent module; the Part A examination; and a Health Protection attachment
  • The second phase allows development of a wider set of skills in increasingly complex service work.  You will move from projects to programmes of work with greater responsibility.  You will need to pass the Objective Structured Public Health Examination and to develop a clear plan for the remainder of training.
  • The final phase of training will allow you to consolidate your competence and develop specialist skills in an area of interest or possible future career options.  You should be a respected member of the public health network, developing a strong reputation outside of your host organisation as well as with senior people in house. You will develop a convincing track record of delivery of public health outcomes.

Teaching and Research

All Public Health Specialists should be able to carry out disciplined investigations and to analyse and interpret data. These abilities are fundamental to all of their specialist work. They should also be competent in communication, in person-to-person and small group discussions, in talking to various types of audience, and in written presentations. These skills of communication and investigation are basic to teaching and research, and conversely experience in teaching and research will enhance and develop the skills. Therefore, these are important aspects of training for all Public Health Specialists.

Specialist attachments

Trainees with special interests or career intentions in a particular branch of Public Health practice many undertake attachments to other accredited organisations in order to gain relevant experience.


Each phase of training has a set of expected learning outcomes to be achieved.  Phases one and two have examination milestones as well.  

The Part A exam tests a detailed curriculum which is published at

Success in this exam depends on a strong individual knowledge base, a thorough understanding of the context and application of that knowledge, and a certain amount of exam technique.  Although completing the MPH will give you a good academic grounding in public health and helps you to prepare, the Part A Faculty exam is a challenge for most, if not all, Specialty Registrars.  It will be up to you to prepare well and make the most of the support that will be available to you, and you must take advantage of the regional support offered. 

The Part B exam, or OSPHE (Objective Structured Public Health Exam) is a scenario based, face to face exam in which candidates are expected to demonstrate excellent public health skills in communication, handling information, problem solving and dealing with uncertainty.  A larger proportion of SpRs pass this exam at the first attempt compared to the Part A.  You will perform better in the OPSHE if you have regularly taken responsibility for handling everyday public health problems in a team context.  For example, drafting a response to an MP’s enquiry to your CEO, or answered a press enquiry.  The West Midlands School holds mock exams for both Part A and Part B prior to candidates sitting the real thing and detailed feedback will be given on how to improve performance.

On call

Depending on local clinical governance arrangements trainees participate in the public health on-call out of hours rota for communicable disease and environmental health after passing part A and after satisfactory assessment by local Health Protection Consultants and can continue this training up until CCT or equivalent. On call is undertaken in line with Band 1C (and AfC 2007/1 for the same amounts of on call). Guaranteed consultant grade cover is always available. If no on-call is undertaken a basic salary only is paid and work arrangements accommodate this accordingly

Study Leave in the West Midlands

Trainees have a nominal budget to spend on courses and conferences as determined by the Postgraduate Dean and the PHS. In addition, there are a series of free courses run by the training scheme that cover core skills that are not covered in the academic training. These are often participatory courses. Recent examples of this kind of training including writing skills, media interviews, CV and interview skills, presentation skills. Trainees give feedback and video is used to develop these skills which are important in public health.

The arrangements described in this document are subject to change as the service develops and changes as appropriate will be arranged by the Training Committee.

Please click HERE to find the Study leave application form and Study Leave policy for the West Midlands.


Trainees will normally have one hour dedicated tutorial time with their Educational Supervisor each week. Attendance is expected at weekly department business and audit meetings and tutorials/learning sets arranged by the regional training scheme and/or local Public Health Networks.

Your Working Day

Hours of work

Full time trainees who have an on call/out of hours frequency of zero will work less than 40 hours per week on average between 8.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday and receive a basic salary and those who do on call a maximum of 48 hours per week on average and in accordance with (and not exceeding) Band IC of T&Cs. These hours do not include time spent on private study.

Yearly Assessment

In common with all Higher Specialist Training programmes, we have a yearly assessment process. Trainees must make satisfactory progress during the year in order to continue into the next part of the scheme. Any problems with training should be apparent through regular appraisals leading up to the annual assessments.

Completing Training 

When you come to compete for a consultant level post towards the end of your training, you will need a track record of teamwork, leadership, influence, and delivery of organisational objectives to draw on in your job applications.

Satisfactory completion of training leads to a CCT and registration on either the GMC specialist register or the UK Public Health register ( Specialist registration is mandatory to practice as a consultant in public health in the UK. StRs may begin to apply for consultant level posts within 6 months of their CCT but cannot take up a post until completion of training.

Please refer to "A Guide to Finishing Training" for more information.

Terms and Conditions of Service

National Terms and Conditions for Public Health Doctors in the NHS at trainee level. SpTs are on national T&C’s under agenda for change as described in Pay Circular. AfC (1/2007) or subsequent revisions.

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