2021 Curriculum learning syllabus: stage 3 special interest areas

Published: 24/02/2021


This guidance was reviewed on 1 February 2024

These pages will be reviewed and potentially updated no later than 31 January 2025.

If you would like to contact us, you can email the Anaesthetics Curriculum and Equivalence Team on training@rcoa.ac.uk or call on 020 7092 1550.

Please let us know what you think. If you feel the information on this page could be improved, please get in touch with us.


During stage 3 of the Anaesthetics Curriculum, 12 months (whole time equivalent) of training must be undertaken in one or more areas of special interest. This allows the anaesthetist in training to develop knowledge and skills to enable them to gain the capabilities required to be an independent practitioner. It also prepares them for specialised areas of anaesthetic practice that they may want to pursue as a consultant or in preparation for additional training opportunities that might be undertaken in a more specialised area of anaesthetics practice after gaining CCT.

Special Interest Area (SIA) training is not separate from that of stage 3. In fact the capabilities acquired during this training inform the capabilities of stage 3. This is particularly relevant for the generic professional domains of learning. Stage 3 domains and the special interest areas together lead to achievement of independent practice.

The SIAs are undertaken over a period of one year during stage 3 of training. The time taken in each SIA depends on the type of SIA. The year may be a single SIA or combination of SIAs such as:

  • 1 year of single SIA from group 1 or 2 x 6 month SIA from group 1
  • 1 SIA from group 1 plus 1 or 2 from group 2
  • up to 3 from group 2
  • Additional Intensive Care plus 1 from group 1 or 1 or 2 from group 2.

Those in the Dual Anaesthetics and ICM programme will use the SIA year for completing stage 3 ICM training.

Anaesthetists in training who are looking to have paediatric lists as a significant part of their job plan as a consultant in a non-tertiary centre should consider doing the SIA in Paediatric Anaesthesia, gaining training and experience in the capabilities that relate to: For those intending to practice and potentially lead paediatric anaesthesia in a non-tertiary setting.

Anaesthetists in training undertaking Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) training will do the Transfer Medicine and Trauma and Stabilisation SIAs plus the stage 3 Resuscitation and Transfer HALO in their PHEM year. This document demonstrates how the PHEM year maps to the Stage 3 and the SIAs.

With respect to pain training - it is expected that Pain Medicine (Group 1) should take 1 year and recommend that Acute Inpatient Pain (Group 2) should take 6 months training time.

SIA Groups

Group 1: 6 months to 1 year
  • Anaesthesia for Cardiac Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Neurosurgery
  • Obstetric Anaesthesia
  • Paediatric Anaesthesia
  • Pain Medicine (1 year)
Group 2: 3 to 6 months
  • Anaesthesia for Bariatric Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Complex Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Major General Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Ophthalmic Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Patients with Complex Airway
  • Anaesthesia for Plastic Surgery and Burns Management
  • Anaesthesia in Resource Poor Environments
  • Anaesthesia for Thoracic Surgery
  • Anaesthesia for Vascular Surgery
  • Military Anaesthesia
  • Perioperative Medicine
  • Regional Anaesthesia
  • Transfer Medicine
  • Trauma and Stabilisation
Additional Intensive Care: 6 months
Acute Inpatient Pain: 6 months

In this guidance for the SIAs examples are given of the experience and evidence suggested for the key capabilities. Schools of Anaesthesia may wish to adapt these examples to local requirements depending on the local provision of training in these areas.

Non clinical SIAs

Up to 6 months of SIA time can be used to complete SIAs that relate to generic professional domains of learning in any one of the following:

  • Research and Managing Data
  • Safety and Quality Improvement
  • Management and Professional and Regulatory Requirements
  • Education and Training

A copy of the Non-clinical SIA guidance for supervisors can be downloaded here.

While we work with our developers to incorporate the four non-clinical HALOs into the Lifelong Learning platform, an editable Word version of the form has been created. Assessors should review the evidence on the anaesthetist in training's LLP and complete the Word version of the HALO. Once approved, the anaesthetist in training should upload the HALO as a Personal Activity to their portfolio.

A copy of the editable Word version of HALO for non-clinical SIAs can be downloaded here.

HALO guide

The contents of the learning syllabus can be downloaded in the form of the HALO guides.  You can download a copy of the stage 3 SIAs HALO guide here.


You can watch a guidance video about stage 3 and the SIAs here.

Change log

07 July 2022

  • Additional detail on regarding pain training options.

01 September 2021

  • Detailed introduction including groupings published
  • Examples of evidence, suggested supervision level, and cross links with other domains and capabilities for all SIA domains updated and published.

10 November 2023

  • Non-clinical SIAs Safety and Quality Improvement and Research and Managing Data published.