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Non-medical public health specialists

Non-medical public health specialists

If you wish to work as an accredited public health specialist it is advisable to be registered with the UK Public Health Register. This is a voluntary register at present but is accepted via custom and practice. Once on the Register you will be eligible to apply for consultant in public health posts when advertised as suitable for those with a medical or a non-medical background.

There are a number of routes to gaining registration on the UK Public Health Register. In the standard route, it entails completion of higher specialist training, applying for training posts (following substantial periods of work in a public health field) via the same national competitive application route as medically qualified applicants. The regional training schemes in public health meet the Faculty of Public Health’s requirements and standards which include a two-part examination and obtaining a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) on completion of all the competences. This enables you to be entered as a public health specialist on the Public Health Register. If you are already highly experienced and in a senior role in a specific area of public health practice, you can apply to use the retrospective route to become registered as a defined specialist in public health. This entails putting together a portfolio of evidence to show that you meet the standards required by the public health register. The UKPHR directly assesses full application for defined registration. There is also now a development route to this part of the register which is managed by the CIEH. See the Public Health Register website for further details.

If you wish to use the retrospective portfolio route to have your name entered as a public health generalist specialist on the public health register, i.e. a specialist competent in all areas of public health practice, you will have to provide specific reasons why you need to apply via this route and not undergo higher specialist training scheme. You will need to have those reasons accepted by the PHR before submitting a portfolio. This route, called recognition of specialist status is for those already in senior positions.  Normally an applicant will have held a senior public health post for several years which will have involved the applicant making independent professional judgements. For further information on this route please visit the Public Health Register website .

The dual route is for those people who are on the specialist registers of the GMC or GDC as doctors or dentists in public health and wish their names to appear on a register specifically for public health as a public health specialist. Registration for them on the public health register will not replace existing professional regulation. For more information please visit


Staying on the register

Initially, registration on the Public Health Register is for five years. The UK PHR board needs to be satisfied that the specialist remains fit to practise within the role that the registrant currently practises at specialist level. Please check the register website for further guidance on revalidation of specialists as this becomes available. In the interim, all registrants are strongly advised to participate in a recognised scheme of continuing professional development (CPD) and to ensure they have an annual documented professional appraisal and personal development plan.


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Alyson Learmonth - Director of Public Health


























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