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Royal College Discipline Recognition

The Royal College currently defines the requirements for specialty education in 70 areas of medical, surgical and laboratory medicine, including three special programs. Click here to access a list of disciplines recognized by the Royal College.

Recognized Royal College disciplines fall into one of five categories, plus special programs. To find out more about each of the five categories of discipline recognition, refer to the information outlined below, or read the Criteria for Royal College Recognition of a Specialty and Subspecialty (2010).

These criteria are used by the Committee on Specialties (COS) in their consideration of applications for discipline recognition.

Fundamentals Program


Definition A primary core curriculum of fundamental competencies in a domain of medicine that is the common training for several related disciplines to build upon. It is a post-MD discipline intended to prepare a physician for further advanced training, and in contrast to a primary specialty, does not normally prepare for practice or lead to certification in itself.
Scope Broad/Foundational
Admission From medical school
Relationship Basis for further disciplines
Length of Training Typically 1-3 years
Example Fundamentals of Pathology



Specialties


Definition An area of medicine with a broad-based body of knowledge that is relevant in both community and tertiary settings and is a foundation for additional competencies (such as subspecialties).
Scope Broad/Foundational
Admission From medical school
Relationship Basis for subs and areas of focused competence (diplomas)
Length of Training Typically 4 or 5 years
Example Psychiatry



Subspecialties


Definition An area of medicine with a more focused or advanced scope that builds upon the broad-based knowledge defined in a parent specialty.
Scope Less broad, builds on primary
Admission Entry from either a fundamentals program or a primary specialty
Relationship Builds on primary, basis for areas of focused competence (diplomas)
Length of Training 1-2 years
Example Forensic Psychiatry



Areas of Focused Competence (Diploma) Program


Definition A highly focused discipline of specialty medicine that addresses a legitimate societal need, but does not meet the criteria for a specialty, fundamentals program, or subspecialty. Typically, AFC (diploma) programs represent either a) supplemental competencies that enhance the practice of physicians in an existing discipline, or b) a highly specific and narrow scope of practice that does not meet the criteria of a subspecialty.
Scope Narrow, enhance existing competencies
Admission Four types of AFC programs:
  1. Entry from a specialty
  2. Entry from a subspecialty
  3. Conjoint programs with the College of Family Physicians (entry with primary certification from either college)
  4. Non-clinical (entry from any M.D)
Relationship Builds on base discipline
Length of Training Typically 1-2 years, but competency-based
Example Cardiac Electrophysiology



Special Interest Group for Medical Activity


Definition An emerging area of interest in specialty medicine or community of practice that addresses a legitimate societal need without a widespread role in healthcare. SIGMAs serve to provide a forum for individuals with a common area of interest to come together to discuss the evolution of their discipline. This category is not considered a formally recognized discipline of the Royal College.
Scope Very focused, emerging
Admission N/A
Relationship N/A
Length of Training N/A
Example Wilderness Medicine



Click here for more information about the Committee on Specialties »

Click here for information about applying to become recognized as a specialty or subspecialty »

Click here for information about applying to become recognized as an area of focused competence (diploma) program »