GP training in Dorset

Dorset offers an exceptional combination of good hospital rotations and varied, high quality GP practices.

Dorset also offers excellent recreational opportunities, quality of life, and fast links to London and the continent. Our trainees are typically keen to stay in the area once trained – a strong endorsement of the quality of work and leisure opportunities here.

The GP Education team organise a regular day release course for GP trainees occur throughout the 3 years with specialist speakers and small peer support groups, offering an exceptional opportunity for learning and support.

The Hospital element of the Dorset Vocational Training Schemes [VTS] run from the three main District General Hospitals  of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester and can include attachments in Christchurch and St. Anne’s hospitals.

Recruitment to General Practice training programmes is managed by the National Recruitment Office for General Practice Training and details of Wessex GP vacancies in different locations of the Deanery are available on the Wessex GP Recruitment pages. Both pages have useful details re FAQ and contact details.

In Dorset we have approximately 120 GP trainees, 40 in each year of GP specialty training.  Each trainee completes 18 months in hospital posts (usually 3 x 6 months) and 18 months in General Practice.  GP attachments occur for 6 months either in the GPST1 or GPST2 year and 12 months in the GPST3 year. We have approved training practices throughout Dorset, in both urban and rural areas.

Map of the Wessex Deanery

Map of the Wessex Deanery

Work life balance

In Dorset, we place great emphasis on achieving an appropriate work/life balance. It is well recognised that if doctors who look after themselves are more likely to be able to offer a high standard of care to their patients. If you seek love watersports, coffee on the beach, the tranquility of the great British countryside, the solitude of wild hills, or the splendour of the world’s second largest natural harbour and World Heritage coastline, then try Dorset! The coast and countryside are playgrounds for sailors, windsurfers, mountain-bikers, and walkers. Alternatively you may prefer to explore Dorset’s fascinating history in places such as Corfe Castle, Maiden Castle, or Kingston Lacey House. Dorset’s main towns offer more urban temptations such as theatre, nightclub and a wide range of restaurants and bars.




Bournemouth offers varied rotations with excellent educational opportunities and support on our structured day release course.

ST1 GP trainees also participate in a program of organised clinics to broaden your clinical experience.

Bournemouth is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, university town with great nightlife. It is located along the beautiful South coast where you can relax on the beach or for the more adventurous there is always Europe’s first artificial surf reef in Boscombe! It is located close to the picturesque New Forest with it’s wide variety of walks, cycle routes and recreational activities. The conurbation also provides many cultural opportunities including the highly acclaimed Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.


There are 12 rotations based at Dorset County hospital, Dorchester offering an excellent mix of O&G, A&E, Elderly medicine, Opthalmology, ENT and Trauma & Orthopaedics. Each rotation contains a post in Paediatrics.

The local GP training practices are spread between the urban areas of Weymouth and Dorchester, and to the more rural areas of West Dorset. There is excellent support and liaison between primary and secondary care.

West Dorset is an area of outstanding beauty and is famous for it’s sailing, windsurfing, diving and many other water sports. There are many beautiful coastal and inland walks in the surrounding countryside. The county town of Dorchester is steeped in history.


Poole has the best beaches in England (ok, maybe we are biased, but come and have a look for yourself!) and a stunning harbour. It is a very popular place to train for General Practice. There are ten rotations are based in Poole Hospital with a number rotating to the nearby Bournemouth and St. Anne’s hospitals. The rotations are varied with some including Paediatrics, O&G, Psychiatry, and Palliative Medicine.

There are a range of excellent training practices in and around the Poole/Bournemouth conurbation giving a wide choice for the discerning GP trainee.

Travel Links

Poole and Weymouth have excellent connections with Europe via ferry services direct to Cherbourg, St Malo, and the Channel Islands. Sailings from nearby Portsmouth add to the options. London is about 2 hours via the M3 or direct rail line from Bournemouth. Railway connections to Bath, Bristol, and to the Southwest are also excellent..

Dorset training scheme offers opportunities to work overseas

Links with New Zealand: The Dorset GP Training scheme offers a small number of GP trainees the chance to spend some time ‘out of programme’ in New Zealand after the ST2 year. Please see the information on this page for more detail.

Global Health fellowships: Dorset trainees are eligible to apply for HEW Fellowships to work for 6 months on a Global health project. Recent trainees undertaken projects in Cambodia and Tanzania. Please see the information on this page for more detail

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