Training in chemical pathology

To work as a consultant in chemical pathology – also known as clinical biochemistry – you can begin your career as a medical doctor or as a clinical scientist. Medically-qualified doctors need to complete specialty training in chemical pathology, later specialising in metabolic medicine. Scientists need to complete Higher Specialty Specific Training (HSST) training in chemical pathology to become a consultant clinical scientist.

The medical route

What are the entry requirements?

To enter training to be a consultant chemical pathologist, you’ll need to:

  • qualify as a doctor
  • register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • complete the UK Foundation Training Programme or equivalent
  • complete two years Core Medical Training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) training
  • gain membership to the Royal College of Physicians.

How long will it take?

Training to be a consultant chemical pathologist takes five years if you’re training full-time – and if you’re specialising in metabolic medicine, you’ll need to stay on for an extra 6 months.

There might be opportunities to extend your training, by undertaking research or out-of-programme training. 

What will my training cover?

There are four stages of training for chemical pathology: A, B, C and D

In stages A and B you’ll be introduced to the basic principles of chemical pathology and gain practical experience, and will need to demonstrate that you can deal with some of the day-to-day issues in a hospital chemical pathology laboratory. You will also be gaining clinical experience of managing patients in the outpatient department.  

At Stage C, the curriculum focuses more on your ability to practice chemical pathology at consultant level. You’ll undertake service development projects and audits as well as building your clinical experience. By the end of Stage C you will have completed Royal College of Pathologist exams and be able to manage patients in the following areas: lipids, diabetes, metabolic bone disease, nutrition, inborn-errors of metabolism, thyroid disease and renal stones.

In Stage D, you’ll work even more independently. You’ll be given the opportunity to lead projects and be able to provide clinical leadership for a chemical pathology laboratory. You’ll be capable of managing patients with minimal supervision and will spend time focusing on the areas that interest you most during this final year.

Find out more about specialty training in chemical pathology.

What exams will I need to take?

To complete your training, you’ll be required to pass the following.

  • Chemical Pathology Stage A examination – this will test your competency and aptitude for further training in the specialty and is normally taken in the first year of training.
  • FRCPath Part 1 in Clinical Biochemistry – this aims to determine whether you have successfully acquired a core body of knowledge that will underpin your ability to practise in clinical biochemistry.
  • FRCPath Part 2 in Clinical Biochemistry – this is designed to test your practical skills and understanding, and show that you can apply your expertise appropriately and safely.

For further information about the format of exams, visit our exams pages.

The science route

To train to be a consultant clinical scientist specialising in chemical pathology, you’ll first need to become a qualified clinical scientist. You can then enter Higher Specialty Specific Training (HSST) in chemical pathology.