Training in virology

To work as a consultant in virology, you can begin your career as a medical doctor or as a clinical scientist. Medically-qualified doctors can take specialty training in virology, and can choose to take on additional training to specialise in infectious diseases or tropical medicine. Scientists need to take Higher Specialty Specific Training (HSST) in virology, to become a consultant clinical scientist.

The medical route

What are the entry requirements?

To enter training to be a consultant virologist, 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?

After your CMT or ACCS, training to be a virologist takes four years if you’re training full-time. You’ll spend two years in Combined Infection Training, and two years of higher specialty training in virology.

If you want to specialise in infectious diseases, you’ll need to complete an additional year of training after your higher specialty training. There might be other opportunities to extend your training, by undertaking research or out-of-programme training. 

What will my training cover?

The training is designed to equip to you to run a full medical virology service at consultant level in the National Health Service (NHS).

Combined Infection Training

For the first two years, you’ll complete Combined Infection Training, which will include: 

  • six months of clinical microbiology training associated with a diagnostic laboratory
  • six months of clinical infection consult duties
  • six months of appropriate infection reed clinics where the major focus of the clinic is managing patients with infection. A combination of clinics could include HIV clinics, travel clinics or GUM clinics
  • six months of clinical inpatient care of patients with infection.

Higher Specialty Training

You’ll then specialise for a further two years on virology specifically.  This will equip you with a broad understanding of the diagnosis and management of infectious disease from a clinical and laboratory perspective, and the diagnostic techniques used within clinical virology. You'll develop your knowledge of infection control, public health and health protection, honing your communication skills through teaching and working within research and development projects. The training will give you experience of clinical governance, service audits and working with the standards of evidence-based medicine which underpin medical virology practice.

Find out more about specialty training in virology.

What exams will I need to take?

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

  • FRCPath Part 1 in Infection – this aims to determine whether you have successfully acquired a core body of knowledge that will underpin your ability to practise in Medical Microbiology.
  • FRCPath Part 2 in Medical Virology – 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 virology, you’ll first need to become a qualified clinical scientist. You can then enter Higher Specialty Specific Training (HSST) in virology.