How do you prepare to be a medical director and thrive in the role?

Clinical Directors 3

Are you aspiring to the role of medical director (MD), associate MD, deputy MD, or a senior executive role? If you are currently in or about to step into these roles – then this programme is for you!

The programme will have a particular focus on:

  • how to have a significant impact to support the board and executive team
  • how, as medical director, you will play a significant role in the reconfiguration of clinical services designed to enhance patient experience, as well as provide a positive environment for colleagues 
  • how to work nationally, regionally and locally to tackle health inequalities and champion quality of care across all clinical services. 

This programme has been uniquely designed over the past 18 months by a group of doctors working at this level, including former medical directors and those currently in associate MD roles alongside a former CEO of a trust board and senior members of the RCP Education Directorate. 

Careful consideration was given to research undertaken on the role in order to provide a fit-for-purpose programme. As the NHS Confederation has identified:

'A significant issue with the role of Medical Director is that there is no clear and systematic career path. In terms of preparation and training for the role, the NHS Confederation argues that although there is some value in formal management courses, more advantageous are courses which deal with actual issues encountered on the job rather than simply management theory.'

Good Governance Institute paper 2: The role of the medical director in the NHS.

We have considerable experience in designing successful programmes with a practical, work-based focus. This programme will include action learning sets and group working enabling participants to focus on a project which will impact on their own trust. A range of guest speakers will share their own experiences of the successes and challenges of working at board level. Throughout the programme there will be opportunities to network and build relationships with those in similar roles around the UK.

Dates of the programme

The programme will be delivered in the RCP's state-of-the-art facilities in The Spine, Liverpool. Private networking dinners (with speaker) and overnight accommodation will be provided during the 2-day blocks. Before applying, please make sure you can attend all days of the programme:

Days 1 and 2: Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 October 2024: Delivered face-to-face at the RCP at The Spine, Liverpool.
Introduction to the role: Definitions, roles and responsibilities, board functions, MD visibility and leadership styles.
Day 3: Tuesday 21 January 2025: Delivered face-to-face at the RCP at The Spine, Liverpool (running time 10am to 4pm).
Communication – human factors/risk/serious incidents and difficult conversations: How to behave as an MD, the media, how to be a translator between board and medical staff. Using scenarios as a teaching tool.

Day 4: Wednesday 14 May 2025: Delivered face-to-face at the RCP at The Spine, Liverpool (running time 10am to 4pm).
Managing staff and doctors day – tribunals/appraisals and revalidation: Compassionate leadership, 'group think.' Scenario work on articulating the reality of a situation. 

Days 5 and 6: Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 September 2025: Delivered face-to-face at the RCP at The Spine, Liverpool.
Project presentations/round up and succession planning: Preparing for the interview. Influencing and lobbying. Succession planning.

Teaching days will be interactive, allowing learners to work together and explore specific areas important to the role. Supportive resources and reading lists will be supplied through the RCP Medical Education Resource Centre throughout the programme.


On the final day or the programme, delegates will share a short 10-minute presentation suitable for use in an interview for an associate MD role and as an outcome to complete the RCP Leadership accreditation. The accreditation will match a project you will have been involved in at your trust. Time will be given in the programme to look at trust-based projects and how they can be supported with the tools you are learning.

Application information

The programme is aimed at all those aspiring to the medical director role, including those about to step into assistant, associate or deputy MD roles. It is also suitable for those in equivalent roles, such as senior executives in other healthcare systems.

'One of the Medical Directors we spoke to said that when she was first considering taking on the role, she felt unprepared and was concerned that she would not have ‘what it takes.’ This sentiment is shared by many Medical Directors who, before taking on the job, have no exposure to the board and little understanding of what is required of them.'
The making of a medical director, HSJ, 1 April 2016

Additionally, we have a 1-day clinical director course, which is suitable for those not yet at a sufficiently senior role, email to find out more

Programme cost

The cost for the year-long programme is £5,000 (£4,500 with our 10% RCP member discount) which can be split over 2 financial years, and we are encouraging use of study budgets and trust top-ups to fund this.

Applicants will need a supporter at senior executive or MD level in their own organisation, who will countersign a learner agreement with you and will support you with the programme and the associated project. We are happy to contact them and discuss how this might be possible. Contact us at

How do I apply?

Applications for the upcoming 2024/25 cohort are currently open, and due to close on 14 August.

All applicants will need to complete an application form. Within the form we will require:

1. Highlights of any leadership experience and leadership development/training.
2.  A supporting statement from your line manager or MD. The line manager must indicate support for the applicant’s personal statement and confirm agreement for the applicant to participate in the programme. 

You can apply using the link to the form below.

Apply now