A postgraduate perspective of a SEM training programme for undergraduates

Undergraduate perspective on Sport & Exercise Medicine – a BJSM blog series

By Andrew Shafik (@aaashafik), Guy Evans (@drguyevans) and Ajai Seth (@ajaiseth)

Are you a doctor interested in specialty training that incorporates physical activity, exercise, sport and medicine?

SEM Training Programme

Although BASEM was formed in 1952, SEM was only first recognised as a medical specialty in 2005. This was closely followed by the launch of the Faculty of SEM (FSEM) in 2006 and the first cohort of SEM trainees in 2007.

The SEM training program is a four-year training program (ST3-6), which starts after completing speciality-training year 2 (ST2). Applicants wishing to apply for SEM training (starting at ST3 level) must complete two years of core medical training (CMT), acute care common stem (ACCS) or the three/four year general practice (GP) speciality-training programme. Trainees undertaking CMT or ACCS as their core training programme are required to obtain full MRCP (UK) before entry into SEM ST3. All trainees must pass the FSEM Membership exam before the end of ST5 consisting of two parts: written and practical clinical assessments1.

The SEM training programme is varied but most trainees rotate in the following specialties:

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Acute Medicine
  • Trauma and Orthopaedics
  • Musculoskeletal Medicine
  • General Practice
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Public Health
  • Other: Respiratory, Cardiology, Rheumatology, Radiology
  • Military
  • Elite Sport

Trainees have exposure to SEM clinics throughout the training and spend part of ST6 working with elite athletes.

Although the FSEM is looking at ways to increase the number of training places across the UK, there are currently no training programmes in Scotland or Wales and are only in certain deaneries around the UK e.g. no posts in south or south east England.

SEM Career

SEM consultants are often portfolio doctors working in several different settings that provide flexibility and security such as: NHS consultant post, elite sports teams/athletes, private SEM/MSK clinics as well as research, education or public health activities.

Standard working hours are usually between 8am and 6pm although commitments with professional sports team can fall outside these hours. Due to the little or no on-call commitments, SEM posts do not usually include banding. Working with clubs/teams is classed as private work and can be paid or voluntary.

The shape of training final report published in 2013 has set out a new broad framework for the future of postgraduate medical education and training2. This aims to make sure doctors are trained to the highest standards whereby a doctor is less specialist and therefore broader and more adaptable to meet changing patient needs for the years to come. The shift of the FSEM Diploma Exam to the new FSEM Membership Exam in recent months is one that now allows professional recognition in Sport and Exercise Medicine to all doctors3.

The future of the speciality is to continue to incorporate SEM services within primary and secondary care, by treating MSK pain, treating and preventing chronic and non-communicable disease and doing so by increasing physical activity within the general population. Whilst funding for training posts remain uncertain, there is a need for SEM physicians to ‘bridge the gap’ between primary care and orthopaedic services. This ultimately improves the patient’s journey across the system.


Andrew Shafik, BSc (Hons), is a 4th year medical student at the University of Aberdeen with a keen interest in SEM. He has an intercalated degree in Sports & Exercise Science and is a keen footballer playing for Aberdeen University Men’s Football Club 1st XI. He is also Co-Founder & Co-President @aberdeen_sems, an Ambassador for Move.Eat.Treat and a new undergraduate representative for the Scottish branch of the FMA.

Dr Guy Evans is a newly qualified Sport and Exercise Medicine Consultant having completed SEM specialist Training in the West Midlands. He is currently the Lead Sports Physician with British Swimming and works with Bath Rugby Club. He held the role of FSEM trainee representative until completion of his Specialist Training and continues to be involved with the training and education of SEM trainees and MSc students.

Dr Ajai Seth is a Sport and Exercise Medicine Registrar and General Practitioner in the West Midlands Deanery. His sporting interests include racket sports, football, athletics and expedition medicine. He is currently Birmingham City Academy and GB para-archery doctor.


  1. Evans G. A Career In Sport and exercise medicine. Student BMJ. 2016; 24: j4336
  2. General Medical Council. (2013). Shape of Training Final Report.Available: http://www.shapeoftraining.co.uk/. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
  3. (2017). Professional Recognition in Sport and Exercise Medicine Now Available to all Doctors.Available: http://www.fsem.ac.uk/news/faculty-news/2017/february/professional-recognition-in-sem-available-to-all-doctors.aspx . Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.

Manroy Sahni (@manroysahni) coordinates the BJSM Undergraduate Perspective blog series. He also serves as Education Officer for the Undergraduate Sports and Exercise Medicine Society (USEMS) committee and Co-President of Birmingham University Sports and Exercise Medicine Society (BUSEMS).


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