Your guide to the cardiology training pathway in the UK

If you are an aspiring cardiology doctor and looking for more information about the cardiology training pathway in the UK, this article is for you. We outline the full cardiology training pathway, cardiology specialties, requirements, salaries and how to apply to cardiology training in the UK.

In this first section we cover your FAQs:

In the next section we cover all stages of the cardiology training pathway in the UK:

  • How to apply to foundation training
  • How to apply to Internal Medicine Training (IMT) 2024
  • How to obtain full MRCP
  • How to apply to ST4 Cardiology

What does a cardiologist do?

Cardiologists are doctors who prevent, diagnose, and treat heart conditions. Cardiologists work with patients to educate on disease prevention, deal with existing heart conditions, emergencies, and life-threatening situations.

What are the types of cardiology subspecialties?

Cardiologists can specialise in areas such as adolescent and adult congenital heart disease, advanced rhythm training, heart failure, imaging, and interventional cardiology. It is possible to combine some of the five areas but not all.

Cardiology training pathway in the UK

What are the entry requirements to apply for cardiology training?

Doctors will enter cardiology training upon successful completion of both a foundation programme (FY1 and FY2) and a core training programme. There are two core training programme routes to cardiology training in the UK – doctors will complete either Internal Medicine Stage 1 Training (IMT) or Acute Care Common Stem – Internal Medicine (ACCS-IM).  During core training, trainees will need to acquire the full MRCP(UK) Diploma to enter cardiology specialty training at ST4.

How long is training for a cardiologist in the UK?

A cardiology doctor will be in training for a minimum of 10 years including their foundation programme and core training.

Cardiology trainees will spend 5 years in Specialty and Internal Medicine Stage 2 Training (ST4-ST8) and pass the European Exam in Core Cardiology (EECC) before obtaining Certification of Completion of Training (Dual CCT) and becoming a Consultant in Cardiology and Internal Medicine.

Cardiology training pathwayDuration
Foundation training (FY1 and FY2)2 years
Internal Medicine Stage 1 Training (IMT) or3 years
Acute Care Common Stem – Internal Medicine (ACCS-IM)4 years
Specialty and Internal Medicine Stage 2 Training (ST4-ST8)5 years
Certification of Completion of Training (Dual CCT)NA

What group specialty is cardiology?

Cardiology is a group 1 specialty, and this training pathway was implemented in August 2022. Group 1 specialties dual train with internal medicine. Group 1 programmes are usually 4 years from entry to ST3, but cardiology and neurology are 5 years.

Which exams do I need to pass for cardiology training?

Cardiology doctors will need to pass at least four exams to complete their training:

Trainees must complete Internal Medicine Training (IMT) acquire the full MRCP(UK) Diploma to enter specialty training at ST4. Full MRCP(UK) is achieved by passing MRCP Part 1, MRCP Part 2 and PACES.

The European Exam in Core Cardiology (EECC) is sat by UK trainees and contains 6 UK-specific questions relating to UK guidance and legislation. Passing the EECC is a curriculum requirement for CCT in the UK. Doctors will sit the exam in ST5. If doctors fail the attempt, they can still progress to ST6/ST7 but will need to retake the exam.

How competitive is cardiology in the UK?

Based on the 2022 numbers, there were 130 ST4 cardiology posts across all deaneries in the UK. There were 412 applicants, making the competition ratio for cardiology training 3:17 . That means there are roughly 3 doctors applying to each ST4 cardiology post. Of the 66 specialties listed on the HEE competition ratios for 2022, cardiology is one of the least competitive training specialties.

The breakdown of national training numbers in the UK for 2023 are as follows:

RegionNTN posts
East Midlands3 – 8
East of England0 – 5
London21 – 28
KSS6 – 9
Northeast4 – 6
Merseyside4 – 5
Northwest5 – 8
Southwest0 – 4
Thames Valley0 – 5
Wessex2 – 8
Yorkshire & Humber8 – 11
Scotland0 – 3
Wales0 – 1

We know it can be disappointing if you are unsuccessful when applying to specialty training.  If you are unsuccessful there are still plenty of opportunities available to prepare you for reapplying the following year. You may want to look for a locum or fixed-term cardiology job to gain experience or improve your portfolio. At Pulse, we can help. Whether you’d want a full-time post or part-time shifts, we can support you in finding the perfect placement. 

Which is the best hospital for cardiology training in the UK?

The Northumbria hospital in Cramlington has been named the best non-surgical cardiology training centre by the British Junior Cardiologists Association. The British Junior Cardiologists Association (BJCA) runs an awards scheme alongside its annual survey in a bid to highlight excellent training.

How much does a cardiologist make?

As a doctor in training, cardiologists will earn a basic salary. The table below shows the national salary scales for 2023/2024. Doctors will receive additional pay for hours over 40 per week, a 37% enhancement for working nights, a weekend allowance for any work at the weekend, an availability allowance if you are required to be available on-call, and other potential pay premia.

Cardiology training pathwayBasic Salary 2023/2024
Foundation training (FY1 and FY2)£32,398 to £37,303
Internal Medicine Stage 1 Training (IMT) or£43,923 to £55,329
Acute Care Common Stem – Internal Medicine (ACCS-IM)£43,923 to £55,329
Speciality and Internal Medicine Stage 2 Training (ST4-ST7)£55,329 to £63,152
Certification of Completion of Training (Dual CCT)£93,666 to £126,281

Applying for cardiology training in the UK

This part of the article covers applying for cardiology training in the UK regardless of which stage you are at in the cardiology training pathway.

How to apply for foundation training in the UK

After completing your undergraduate medical degree, the next part of your training as a doctor involves the two-year Foundation Training programme. You will need to apply through the national application process in autumn for the following summer. Applications are via the Oriel system.

Key dates can be found on the UK Foundation Programme website. 

How to apply to Internal Medicine Training (IMT) 2024

Upon successful completion of your foundation programme, you will need to apply for core training in either Internal Medicine Stage 1 Training (IMT) or Acute Care Common Stem – Internal Medicine (ACCS-IM) to be eligible to apply for ST4 Cardiology (Specialty and Internal Medicine Stage 2 Training) in the future. Doctors apply in autumn for enrolment the following summer.

More information can be found on the IMT recruitment website.

2024 IMT RecruitmentIMT Round 1
Vacancies publishedBy 25th October 2023
Applications open26th October 2023
Applications close23rd November 2023
Longlisting19th December 2023
Shortlisting20th December 2023
Interview invite21st December 2023
Interview booking (1st)28th December 2023
Interview booking (2nd)2nd January 2024
Interviews2nd January to 16th February 2024
Rankings27th February 2024
Programme preferences27th February to 18th March 2024
Offers19th March 2024
Post start date7th August 2024

How to obtain full MRCP (UK)

Our MRCP guides have been created to provide you with the relevant information to help you prepare for your MRCP exams. You will gain Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP) once you have passed MRCP Part 1, MRCP Part 2 and PACES. 

How to apply to ST4 Cardiology

The Physician Higher Specialty Training Recruitment website is responsible for the recruitment of all specialties including cardiology. The recruitment timeline changes each year but there are typically two opportunities to apply, round 1 and round 2. Cardiology did not participate in round 2 of 2023 recruitment. Below are the recruitment timelines for round 1 of cardiology in 2024, this may be the only opportunity to apply.  

More information can be found on the Physician Higher Specialty Training Recruitment website.

2024Round 1
Adverts published15th November 2023
Applications16th November to 7th December 2023
Long/shortlistingLong and short-listing for each specialty will be completed no laterthan seven days prior to the first interview date for that specialty
Evidence uploads datesJanuary 2024
InterviewsMarch 2024 TBC(Individual interview dates will be published before applications open.)
First offers deadline18th April 2024
Offer holding deadline23rd April 2024
Offer upgrade deadline24th April 2024
Interview feedback release date25th April 2024
Posts commencing from date7th August 2024

Applying for a national training number is a pivotal part of your cardiology career. To prepare yourself for this process, it is important to understand the process well in advance. Talk to colleagues and those who have recently been interviewed to familiarise yourself with the national selection process. Prior preparation, practice, and a clear understanding of what to expect on the day of the interview are essential.

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