How many years does a basic medical doctor need to become a specialist or GP? The answer to this question used to be fixed. But since 2014 the programme duration has been individualised: there is now customisation for doctors in training to become a specialist (specialists in training), which means the programme can be completed faster.

In 2013 the Minister of VWS reached an agreement  with the NFU and other patients’ associations about budget cuts in the advanced medical specialist programme. A range of measures was agreed:  

  1. The number of programme places was reduced, by around 100 per year;

  2. Hospitals receive less programme budget per specialist in training;

  3. The advanced programme must be completed by a proportion of the specialists in training at least six months earlier (in 2022, 80% of the specialists in training must complete the programme a half-year earlier than was the case in 2013). 

The shortening of the programme duration by six months can be realised in three different ways:

  • Through the dedicated transition programme, better use is made of the basic medical doctor programme.
  • Based on the already acquired competencies, more exemptions can be granted during the advanced programme. 
  • The fixed programme duration of medical specialists is being abandoned to allow them to acquire the necessary competencies faster (on average).

End result: specialists in training who already have the necessary skills to start a career as a fully fledged specialist can conclude their programme earlier. This makes the advanced programme more efficient and less expensive. This arrangement matches well the programmes’ modernisation procedure launched in 2008 (took effect in 2011): this enables training in a real competence-oriented manner.

The harmonisation between the basic medical programme and advanced programme (the dedicated transition programme) is the responsibility of the NFU. For the last mentioned two 'accelerations', the Federation of Medical Specialists is particularly responsible.