Out of programme (OOP)

What is out of programme?

When a doctor in training takes time out of their approved programme, this is called out of programme (OOP).

All out of programme has to be approved by your postgraduate dean. Your out of programme may also need approval from your royal college or faculty. You should discuss this with your training programme director and educational supervisor as early as possible. The approval process can take three months and you must give your employer (current and/or next) three months’ notice.

If you want your out of programme to count towards your Certificate of completion of training (CCT) we must approve the post before it starts.

Types of out of programme

Out of programme career break (OOPC)

This is to pursue other interests or deal with a period of ill health.

Out of programme for clinical experience (OOPE)

This is to enhance clinical experience or to gain experience as a locum consultant.

OOPC or OOPE cannot count towards a CCT so they do not need our approval. You should speak to your home deanery or local education and training board (LETB) to find out their requirements. 

Out of programme for approved clinical training (OOPT)

This is for clinical training which isn’t part of your training programme. This will normally be a maximum of one year. In exceptional circumstances it can be up to two years.

Out of programme for research (OOPR)

This is for a period of research. This will not normally exceed three years.

OOPT and OOPR can count towards a CCT and may need our approval. You should read our guidance for doctors in training on when our approval is needed.

Acting up as a consultant (AUC)

Acting up as a consultant posts may count towards a CCT when this is explicitly allowed by the relevant college/faculty. Where the acting up as a consultant post is in the same training programme you are enrolled onto, our approval isn’t needed. If the acting up as a consultant post is in a different training programme, the usual out of programme approval process must be followed to get our prospective approval.

When you are acting up as a consultant, there must be appropriate supervision in place and approval will only be considered if the placement is relevant to gaining the competences, knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the curriculum. Acting up as a consultant posts are normally taken in the final year of specialty training.

Time in acting up as a consultant can count towards the award of a CCT under certain circumstances. Unless explicitly permitted by the relevant college or faculty guidance, experience acting up can’t be counted towards a CCT.

You should speak with your home deanery/LETB about your time out of programme and whether or not the time will count towards your CCT.


We have produced guidance for:

You should read our guidance alongside the most recent edition of A Reference Guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK – The Gold Guide, which provides further out of programme guidance.

Regardless of your role, we recommend you read all the guidance to understand how the process works.