Training overview

Length of training

Specialty training in public health takes 5 years for those without a postgraduate degree in Public Health (usually MPH or MSc in Public Health) at the start of training, and proportionately longer for those training less than full time (LTFT). You will be given time to obtain a full Master’s in Public Health qualification at the University of Birmingham during your first 1-2 years of training to provide you with a foundation for your Faculty exams and professional career.

For those new registrars who have already completed a relevant postgraduate degree in Public Health, the training time will usually be reduced to 4 years with entry into ST2; however, depending on the content of the postgraduate degree, and other variables such as protected academic training time for academic registrars, a decision may be taken by the School to extend the training time further. Similarly, registrars with a DFPH examination pass before starting training will usually be considered for entry into ST2. 

Training Curriculum

The 2015 curriculum, available on the FPH website (, is based around key areas which constitute what a Consultant in Public Health needs to know and needs to be able to do. The curriculum will help you to build basic skills onto a knowledge platform and to consolidate those skills in increasingly complex work and diverse environments. You will progress through 2 training phases, each of which has specific milestones. More information can be found within the FPH 2015 curriculum


Registrars will benefit from training in a region with a diverse set of GMC approved placements, with core training based around placements within Local Authorities and Public Health England, which remain the two largest employers of Consultants in Public Health nationally. More specialised placement opportunities are also available in areas such as Academia (which are mandatory for academic registrars), Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England Screening and Immunisations Teams, and NHS Acute Trusts.

Your Local Authority placement opportunities will generally be located near your allocated training zone, which can be any of:

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

Most registrars starting the scheme will begin their training journey at a local authority public health training placement, alongside their MPH studies.

A minimum 4 months placement time is offered at a Health Protection Unit at Public Health England, usually after passing the DFPH examination which offers a good theoretical foundation for health protection practice, alongside dedicate MPH modules. Towards the end of this placement, registrars must undertake and pass a regional on-call assessment with PHE to allow them to work out-of-hours duties in health protection (‘on call’).

More specialist training placements become increasingly available once registrars have completed their core learning objectives in local authorities and at Public Health England, and usually after completing the DFPH and MFPH examinations.

All efforts are made to place registrars within or near their original training zones throughout the training scheme.  

National and International Opportunities

The Faculty of Public Health also approves some posts outside the United Kingdom for training purposes. It is possible for registrars to apply to rotate from the West Midlands Training Scheme to a national or overseas post once they have passed their final membership examination (MFPH), and where this opportunity is within a GMC approved placement and offers a unique learning opportunity not available locally (usually a ‘National Treasure’ placement)


Dedicated support will be provided throughout training to prepare you for your DFPH and MFPH Final Membership exam, which are the two core assessments that are fundamental to qualifying from the training scheme, along with the achievement of all core curriculum competencies.

As well as dedicated learning time within the MPH, you will receive dedicated tutorials and mock exams to help you prepare.  

Success in the DFPH 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 DFPH exam is a challenge for most, if not all 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 Final Membership Exam (MFPH), 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 registrars pass this exam at the first attempt compared to the DFPH exam.  You will perform better in this exam 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 answering a press enquiries at your local authority office.

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. The School actively promotes teaching and research excellence for all public health registrars, and we have a range of placements and partnerships across the academic public health sector in the region to facilitate this. We also commission Academic Learning tutorials for registrars at all stages of training to support you with your academic career development.

On Call

Click here to learn more about the out of hours (OOH) on call duties you will be expected to undertake in this training scheme (share link from potential applicant landing page titled ‘out of hours information’)

Work pattern

Many registrars are able to work flexibly in their public health placements during training, and your training arrangements will always be expected to fall within your contractual obligations (Junior Doctor Contract/ Agenda for Change as applicable). The flexibility of each placement in terms of working day/working from home allowances will be based on the organisation policy of the hosting placement provider. 

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.

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Page Updated 07/04/2021