Higher Specialist Training in the West Midlands Region

The Higher Specialist training scheme balances academic training with experience of working in public health.  Most trainees will spend the majority of their service training in Local Authorities and PHE. Academic post opportunities at the Universities of Birmingham, Warwick, Keele and Staffordshire are available as part of the programme.  

Each public health registrar is assigned an Educational Supervisor, with whom they meet every week to discuss their work in the placement organisation.  Each registrar is also assigned an Academic Supervisor from currently either Birmingham University or Warwick University.  The scheme has been specifically developed for both registered medical practitioners and for those from other backgrounds.  The training scheme is one aspect of the programme within the region to develop the capacity and capability of the public health function.

Public Health Training in Local Departments

Much public health work is project based, with long term horizons. Public health departments see their role as assessing the needs of the population for health care, helping to change clinical services and other agencies to provide that care, and contributing to protecting the health of the population through the control of communicable disease and environmental hazards.  Public Health trainees negotiate a training plan with their trainers.  This plan is renewed and assessed every 6 months to ensure that the trainees receive good experience.  All trainees are expected to substantially rotate at least once in their training.  Usually, this is to a nearby placement which are organised into Public Health Training Networks.  Trainees also will undertake placements in Public Health England.

Academic Training in the West Midlands

All Higher Specialist registrars who enter the training scheme are assigned an academic supervisor, in addition to their service educational supervisor.  Usually, this is a full time academic member of staff at the University of Birmingham or Warwick University.  They meet once a term and discuss the progress of the trainee with the academic parts of the training.  The academic supervisor will also help to develop work for publications and help those registrars who wish to pursue a higher degree.

Academic training at the start of the programme in public health is mainly done within the department of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Birmingham.  The foundation of this training is an 8 months wte Master of Public Health (MPH) course.  This modular course covers a broad range of the theoretical aspects of public health and is completed by a research project.  If registrars already have a relevant qualification, they do not need to sit the MPH and can start in the second year of training.  Details of the MPH course can be found on the University of Birmingham website (

One of the aims of the MPH is to prepare candidates for the part A MFPH.  In addition to these registrars will also have many Wednesday Tutorials spent at the university covering issues for part A and past paper questions for the part A exam. Registrars are required to sit the part A MFPH examination within a year of finishing their MPH course.

Health Protection Training

Placements will exist for general Health Protection training in each of the three PHE Units in the West Midlands. Registrars may also take up placements out of the region (post part B) eg with the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) in London and the specialised health protection placements within the West Midlands.