Out of Programme (OOP)

Out of Programme (OOP) is a term that relates to those trainees that wish to undertake a range of activities that are outside of their planned training programme.

There are a range of circumstances as to why individuals may want to undertake an OOP; to gain training or clinical experience, to undertake research or to take a career break. These distinct OOP pathways are referred to as: 

  • Out of Programme Experience (OOPE)
  • Out of Programme Training (OOPT)
  • Out of Programme Career Break (OOPC)
  • Out of Programme Research (OOPR).  OOPR approval is slightly different to the other Out of Programmes.  Please refer to guidelines below.

Before an application for OOP, trainees must discuss their plans with their Educational Supervisor and/or Training Programme Director (TPD). This discussion will form the basis for ensuring that the OOP is suitable and that the proposed post will meet the educational needs of the trainee.

It should be noted that any time out or programme will not normally be agreed until the trainee has been in a training programme for at least one year and will not normally be allowed in the final year of training unless extreme circumstances prevail. In most cases, OOPs are agreed locally within the deaneries and will not be credited towards their Certification of Completion of Training (CCT), but for those trainees who wish to have their time out credited towards their CCT, then a formal prospective application for approval must be submitted to the GMC.

Please note: GMC is the only body that can approve all forms of post graduate medical education that leads to a CCT or equivalent award in the UK.

Deanery process

Within the deanery, it is the Postgraduate Dean that is ultimately responsible for OOP; working with Heads of Schools, Specialty Training Committee Chairs and Regional Advisors, who act on behalf of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

In most cases, deaneries will require OOP application forms and supporting documentation to be submitted no less than six months in advance of the proposed start date. Trainees also have a duty to inform their current employer at least three months in advance to ensure that local service needs are addressed. Within the deaneries, all specialty schools have a set number of OOPs that they can approve each year, once that approval limit is reached, trainees are then usually subjected to a competitive process managed by the Postgraduate Dean and informed by local service needs.

For those trainees, who successfully gain an OOP, they must retain their national training number (NTN) and be aware that: 

  • Three years out of the clinical training programme is normally the maximum time allowed out of programme. Extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances and these will need further written confirmation from the Postgraduate Dean.
  • Usually OOP will start from trainee’s rotation date and only at other times by exception. There is a need for the trainee to liaise with their TPD so that re-entry on to the clinical training programme can be facilitated.
  • Trainees are still subjected to the annual review panels and they must submit a yearly out of programme report, which must be accompanied with an assessment report of their progression in their clinical or research post. Failure to do so may result in trainees being unable to progress or having their NTN withdrawn.
  • Trainees must relinquish their NTN if they take more than a two year break from training on either an OOPE or OOPC.
  • It is the trainee’s responsibility to maintain licensing/revalidation as appropriate at the time.

Royal College approval

For all out of programme training, clinical or research experiences, the RCPCH must support the application. It is the responsibility of the trainee to seek this approval. The RCPCH has designated its Regional Advisors (RA) as the Colleges’ nominated source of approval. Therefore all applications will need to be supported and signed off by the respective RA after verification of suitability of the OOP. 

If you are undertaking an OOPR it is the Academic Regional Advisor who must support and sign of the application.  Check to see who your Academic or Regional Advisor is for your deanery. If you do not have an Academic Regional Advisor within your region, you are advised to seek out Academic Regional Advisor from a neighbouring region to sign your application.

Please note: Should your OOP application be unsuccessful then you are advised to contact your Head of School in the first instance. Out of Programme is a deanery managed process and the role of the College is to give approval to applications only and is unable to get involved with applications that are not approved.

RCPCH OOP approval form (PDF, 116 KB)