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Categories of discipline recognition

The Royal College defines the requirements for specialty education in areas of medical, surgical, and laboratory medicine. Recognized Royal College disciplines fall under specialties, subspecialties and Area of Focused Competence. Another category of recognition is the Fundamentals Program.

The Royal College's is the body responsible for defining the requirements for discipline recognition (see the COS Terms of Reference). The COS uses the Criteria for Royal College Recognition of a Specialty and Subspecialty when considering applications for discipline recognition.

Length of Training
Specialties Subspecialties Areas of Focused Competence Diploma Program
An area of medicine with a broad-based body of knowledge that is relevant in both community and tertiary settings and serves as the basis for additional competencies (such as subspecialties). An area of medicine with a more focused or advanced scope that builds upon the broad-based knowledge defined in a parent specialty. A highly focused discipline of specialty medicine that addresses a legitimate societal need, but does not meet the criteria for a specialty, subspecialty or fundamentals program. Typically, AFC diploma programs represent either supplemental competencies that enhance physicians’ practices in an existing discipline or a highly specific, narrow scope of practice that does not meet the criteria of a subspecialty.
Broad, foundational More focused, builds on primary specialty Narrow, enhances existing competencies
From medical school Entry from a fundamentals program or primary specialty Depending on the AFC program, entry is possible from a specialty, subspecialty, M.D. (non-clinical) or conjoint program with the College of Family Physicians (with primary certification from either college).
Basis for subspecialties and Areas of Focused Competence diplomas Basis for Areas of Focused Competence diplomas Builds on a base discipline
Typically four to five years One or two years Typically one or two years, but competency-based
Psychiatry Forensic Psychiatry Cardiac Electrophysiology