The abbreviation OOPA is used as a general collective term for all types of out of programme activities. The definitions of the three types of formal OOPA are given below.
- Out of Programme Experience (OOPE): any out of programme activity that is not to be counted towards the trainee's CCT.
- Out of Programme Research (OOPR): a period of research from which the trainee may receive partial credit towards their CCT.
- Out of Programme Training (OOPT): a period of training undertaken outside the trainee's own training programme that is to be counted (whether partially or in its entirety) towards their CCT. OOPT includes secondment to another training programme, a Fellowship post (whether in the UK or abroad) and "acting up" as a consultant that is undertaken outside of the trainee's training programme. Trainees "acting up" at a location within their home training programme do not need to apply for approval.
Trainees may also consider taking a break in their training. Whist this is not technically an activity, for clarity it is described as an "Out Of Programme Career Break" (OOPC). Breaks of this nature should be notified to the Training Team at the College through submission of a completed RCR OOP form. The College will then revise the trainee's expected CCT date.
A trainee who is considering undertaking any sort of OOPA needs to start developing their plans well in advance and to discuss these with the head of their training programme and their postgraduate dean. They will also need to seek College approval at an early stage by submitting the College OOPA form. All OOPA permission must be obtained prospectively. GMC will not approve credit for any OOPA which has already commenced at the time of the application.
The College OOPA form can be downloaded from this page. Trainees should complete and submit this to the College's Training Team - see Application to the College below for further guidance.
The GMC has established procedures for the approval of OOPR and OOPT, which need to be observed in order for a trainee to receive credit from the activity towards their CCT. The only exception to this is when the OOPT is for the purpose of a secondment to a GMC approved established training post within another UK training programme; the GMC's approval is not required but the need for deanery and College approval remains.
An application to the GMC for OOPR or OOPT approval must be made by the deanery. The GMC will not accept applications from trainees, their training supervisors or the College. Trainees who are considering OOPA from which they wish to obtain credit, therefore, need to liaise with their deanery/HEE and the College at an early stage in order that formal approval from the GMC may be obtained before the OOPR or OOPT begins. It is strongly recommended that the initial application to the College is made at least three months in advance of the OOPA starting - and preferably six months should be allowed. If prospective GMC approval is not obtained, the trainee cannot receive credit towards their CCT.
Application to the College
The trainee must submit the OOP Form to the Training Team at the Royal College of Radiologists via firstname.lastname@example.org. The College does not need to receive a copy of the deanery/HEE OOPR/T approval form at this stage (although it would be happy to do so if it was available). Please ensure that you are explicit about the following information:
- For a fellowship post: a formal description of the post, including its title and location, and the exact dates when it is to be undertaken.
- For research: a formal description of the project, including its aims, purpose and method, the exact dates when it is to be undertaken, its location and a view from the head of the training programme about how much credit is considered appropriate on the basis of the extent to which the research will facilitate coverage of the specialist training curriculum.
- All applications should be supported by a weekly timetable giving details of any clinical commitments. This will govern the amount of credit awarded.
- For "acting up" as a consultant: the exact dates, location and name of the direct consultant supervisor
- Ensure the form is signed by the Training Programme Director
Once the College has made its decision, it will reply to the trainee, copying its letter to the head of the training programme, regional adviser and postgraduate dean.
This letter can be used in support of any application to the GMC. It is the responsibility of the HEE/Deanery to obtain GMC approval for any credit recommended by the College
Once the GMC has made its decision it will advise this (by email) to the deanery/HEE, and copy its response to "relevant stakeholders", which include the College. It is understood that deaneries/HEEs will continue to require trainees to use their OOPR/T approval forms; the College will expect to receive a copy of the fully completed and signed form from the trainee.
OOPA without CCT Credit (OOPE)
A trainee who wishes to undertake OOPE (ie an OOPA that does not contribute towards their CCT) must obtain specific permission for this from their deanery and the head of their training programme. However, approval from the GMC is not required. OOPE of this nature must be notified to the Training Team at the College through submission of both a copy of the fully completed and signed deanery/HEE OOPE approval form, which must specifically state that no credit is to be received, and a completed RCR OOP form. The College will then revise the trainee's expected CCT date and notify this to the trainee, the head of his/her training programme, his/her regional adviser and postgraduate dean.
It is not possible to subsequently seek CCT credit for an OOPA that a trainee and their training supervisors and deanery/HEE have agreed should be undertaken as OOPE.
Extension of OOPR/T
When the duration of OOPR/T is extended, it may be appropriate to seek an additional credit award. This should be done in the same manner as if a new period of OOPR/T were to be undertaken. The GMC's approval needs to be obtained before the original duration of the OOPR/T concludes.
Change of OOPA Plans and/or Content
Trainees must inform the College at the earliest opportunity if there is any change to their OOPA plans and/or content. This includes advising if the OOPE/R/T is not to go ahead, if the start date, duration or location change, or if the content differs from that upon which the original credit award was made. In the latter case, the College can consider revision to the credit award, either upwards or downwards, and advise the GMC accordingly. Further modification, as appropriate, will be made to the trainee's expected CCT date where this may be affected and advised to the trainee, the head of his/her training programme, regional adviser and deanery.
The Royal College of Radiologists believes that OOPA can offer valuable opportunities for trainees. However, deaneries/HEEs and training programme are sometimes unable to support requests for OOPA; in any such circumstances, the College will not be able to intervene on the trainee's behalf.
It is imperative that trainees plan their OOPA well in advance and take personal responsibility for ensuring that the deanery and College are fully informed of their plans (including notification when these do not go ahead). Trainees must also ensure that full and timely information is provided to the College and the deanery to ensure that the latter is in a position to apply to the GMC for prospective permission when this is required.
Should trainees or their trainers have any queries about the arrangements for approval of OOPA, the College's Training Team would be pleased to assist: 020 7406 5928.