Sir Harry Burns, as he announced this week that he is stepping down as CMO to become Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University, highlighted a requirement for more medics who can turn their hand to helping on the frontline.
He said: "I think we have seen the emergence of super specialists and, actually, what we need are more generalists."
His comments reflected issues which have already been highlighted by the UK-wide "Shape of Training" review, led by David Greenaway, vice chancellor of Nottingham University.
Dr Neil Dewhurst, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said they had "much sympathy with Sir Harry's views".
He added: "There is a clear need to secure a sustainable medical workforce that meets the needs of patients and attracts those best suited to work in the NHS. The College is committed to working with the General Medical Council and the four devolved heath departments to develop a more flexible training system."
In a statement the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said: "With the evolving and increasing evidence that volume (and therefore specialism) matters in surgical outcomes,
"RCSEd recognises there can be a tension between 'generalism' and 'specialism', however, the College strongly supports the emphasis on the retention of 'general skills'."