The informing principle of the RCSI's Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) programme is to accelerate the delivery of innovative, impactful research in health sciences across a range of critical research themes by attracting the best research talent in Ireland. To implement its strategy, in 2016 RCSI established the StAR MD programme to strengthen translational research and build on highly skilled clinical expertise to improve modern healthcare issues. The programme is a highly prestigious and unique opportunity for Registrars and Specialist Registrars who are on a career trajectory towards consultant level.

The StAR MD degree by dissertation is a body of work representing two calendar years of research activity and holds a major place among the higher doctorates at Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The MD is considered in RCSI to be a key element in the professional training of clinicians, and in order to graduate with it, a candidate must provide evidence of an original contribution to any area of medicine, surgery, psychiatry or medical science. The RCSI is committed to supporting an effective supervisory system for each candidate registered for the MD and thus a Principal and Co-Supervisor is appointed for each StAR MD candidate.

The 2022 StAR MD programme encompasses funded MD fees for two years sponsored by the private hospital, a RCSI research consumable budget (€10,000 p.a. for two years) and a salaried clinical commitment to Beacon Hospital, Blackrock Clinic, Bon Secours Hospital Dublin, Hermitage Clinic, Highfield Healthcare, Mater Private Network or Surgical Sports Centre.

In collaboration with:

Beacon Hospital is one of Europe’s most advanced private hospitals, with over 1,300 consultants, nurses and healthcare professionals. Offering world-class acute medical and surgical services, the hospital strives for excellence in patient care, medical standards and overall hospital experience.

Beacon Hospital prides itself on a comprehensive infection prevention and control programme, highlighting their commitment to being the highest-quality and safest provider of acute care services. Beacon for Kids is Ireland’s only dedicated private paediatric unit offering a range of outpatient services and surgical procedures.

Beacon Hospital has been awarded the highest standards in JCI and has also been awarded JAG accreditation for its four state-of-the-art endoscopy suites. It offers a full service multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment inclusive of medical oncology, surgical treatment, radiation oncology, inpatient care, pain management, palliative care and more. Beacon Centre for Orthopaedics is situated in a new and modern unit. It is home to 18 specialist orthopaedic consultants along with Ireland’s most comprehensive Sports Lab and team of physiotherapists. Beacon Hospital is the GE European Showcase Unit for Radiology and as such, is fitted with the most technologically advanced diagnostic equipment available. Additionally, Beacon Hospital offers high quality, multi-disciplinary research with the aim to deliver evidence-based medicine and improved treatment options patients. Beacon Hospital –This is Modern Medicine.

Blackrock Clinic is the longest established private hospital and clinic in Ireland. Since opening in the mid 1980s, the Clinic has built an unparalleled reputation in new high-tech surgical procedures, medical treatments and ground-breaking diagnostics. This reputation means that some of the best international and national consultants work at Blackrock Clinic. Blackrock Clinic is a now member of the Blackrock Healthcare Group which includes the Hermitage Medical Clinic and Galway Clinic.

Bon Secours Hospital Dublin is an independent acute care hospital that is part of Bon Secours Health System, Ireland’s largest private healthcare group. It is a not-for-profit organisation which has been a leader in healthcare excellence and has been meeting surgical and medical patient needs since it was established in 1951.

The hospital provides a comprehensive range of modern diagnostic, therapeutic and support services underpinned by the latest medical technology and approaches combined with traditional values, compassion and personalised medical care. In 2002, the hospital was the first internationally-accredited hospital in Ireland when it achieved JCI accreditation. The hospital has set the standard for all private hospitals in Ireland and all hospitals are now required to be JCI-accredited. In 2016, the hospital achieved another first when it became the first private hospital to achieve JAG accreditation of its endoscopy unit, which is widely recognised internationally as the gold standard for endoscopy units.

Bon Secours Hospital Dublin employs over 600 staff and has a consultant staff of over 150. It is also a teaching hospital of RCSI and DCU's nursing programme.

Hermitage Clinic, a member of the Blackrock Healthcare Group, is a 112 bed private hospital in Lucan, West Dublin, that provides a full range of medical and surgical care across a broad spectrum of specialities. First-class consultant expertise spans a range of clinical specialities including surgery, medicine, endoscopy, oncology and interventional diagnostics. In November 2020, the clinic successfully achieved its fifth accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI) on the seventh edition of standards.

In 2019, the clinic was awarded Gold Certification for Excellence in Person-Centered Care by Planetree International. This Certification recognises achievement and innovation in the delivery of person-centered care. The Hermitage Clinic is one of only 86 healthcare organizations worldwide to receive the Gold Certification since the program's launch, and the first in Ireland.

Highfield Healthcare is Ireland's leading provider of acute and specialist mental health services and is one of the largest providers of care to older persons. It is is highly regarded for its expertise in dementia and Alzheimer's and the challenges associated with ageing. All units have a team of specialised nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors who work alongside consultant psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and activities co-ordinators.

Highfield also focuses on recent developments in acute general adult psychiatry including inpatients and day hospital and in addition. Last year, it opened a specialised rehabilitation unit, which is innovative in its approach to preparing people with complex presentation of mental illness into the community.

Steeped in history since 1825, Highfield offers opportunity for research in a number of areas, which can contribute significantly to the development of psychiatry in Ireland.

Mater Private Network is the number one private hospital network in Ireland in which to receive care, deliver care and work. Established in 1986, its network now extends to two acute hospitals, a radiation oncology centre, two day-hospitals and three outpatient clinics located throughout the country. Its consultants and wider team deliver the full range of healthcare specialties to some 300,000 patients annually including cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic and spine, emergency and out-patient services.

As part of the team in Dublin, the Mater Private Network offers the opportunity to learn alongside world-class consultants and experts who challenge themselves to offer exceptional solutions in treatment, surgery and care to patients. Being part of the Mater campus facilitates mutual collaboration, access to specialty expertise and sharing of resources. The organisation continuously invests and participates in research nationally and internationally, driven to deliver better healthcare outcomes for its patients. 

Sports Surgery Clinic (SSC) in Santry, Dublin is the leading private orthopaedic hospital in Ireland with both a national and international reputation for orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. Since opening in 2007, it has become established as a centre of excellence in joint replacement and sports soft tissue surgery.

SSC has in excess of 40 consultants in orthopaedic surgery and allied specialties supported by a team of highly specialised nurses, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

Its goal is to provide exceptional levels of quality care with a significant focus on positive outcomes and patient satisfaction.

How to apply

To apply for the 2022 StAR MD, send the following items to

Please note: 

  • You can include the names of 2–4 supervisors, one of whom should be an RCSI supervisor
  • You should liaise with potential supervisors to agree in advance the focus of the research you wish to carry out
  • A research proposal (500 words) should be submitted within your application
  • Places will be competitive. It is expected that you will have:
    • Obtained general or trainee specialist registration with the Irish Medical Council (
    • Previously undertaken research or audit projects at undergraduate and/or postgraduate level
    • Evidence of the quality of your research activity  (i.e. presentations and publications)

Key dates:

1 Oct 2021 Applications open
6 Jan 2022 Applications close
Jan/Feb 2022 Interviews
July 2022 Positions begin
RCSI StAR MD 2022 – Application form DOCX | 596.9 KB