Radiology Training In The UK: What It Is And How To Apply

Recruitment into radiology training across the whole of the UK is carried out through a nationally coordinated process.

Usually, there is only one recruitment round every year – with training jobs starting in August/November.

All applications are managed through the ORIEL website and information regarding the number of posts and application process is released once the application window is open.

Eligibility for Radiology application

Along with a basic medical qualification (eg MBBS, MbChB), you must also have the following in order to be eligible to apply:

1. Full GMC registration with a license to practice before starting the training programme (August or September).

2. Must be eligible to work in the UK.

3. Must have evidence of having met UK foundation competencies (either through completion of UK foundation year programme or through evidence of signed the latest CREST form .

4. Must have 12 months medical experience (UK or abroad) after full GMC registration

Radiology training structure

Entry to clinical radiology is the same whether you are aiming for diagnostic or interventional radiology as a subspeciality.

The first three years of training involve learning radiology core skills and rotating in different radiology subspecialties.

From fourth year onwards (ST4+), trainees have to choose a subspecialty of their interest. If they take up a core diagnostic sub specialty, training will end after year ST5. If choosing Interventional Radiology, training will end after year ST6.

The official exam for radiology is FRCR and there are three parts to this exam. Part 1 is taken during ST1 and Parts 2a + 2b are taken during ST3 and ST4 years. All parts must be passed by the end of 5 years training.

Radiology application stages

Stage 1: Application period

Candidates can submit their applications through the ORIEL website. The eligibility requirements must be met before you apply.

Stage 2: Multi Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)

This is a computer based assessment which consists of two types of question papers:

a) Clinical questions (75-minute paper)
b) Professional dilemma questions (95-minute paper)

The total duration of the assessment is just under 3 hours (175 minutes, including break). A 5-minute break occurs between papers (countdown appears on screen). The Professional Dilemma Paper usually happens first and is shortly followed by the Clinical Questions paper.

The Professional dilemma paper (SJT) consists of 50 Situational Judgement Test questions in 95 minutes – this paper occurs first. See below for more details and example questions.

The Clinical problem-solving paper (CPS) consists of 97 clinical questions in 75 minutes – this paper starts 2 minutes after completion of the SJT paper. See below for more details and example questions.

You must achieve the cut off score in MSRA to reach the next stage. If there are 350 posts available, they will invite around the top 700 candidates to the next stage (interview) based on their score in MSRA. Hence, MSRA plays a crucial role in the entry to radiology training.

Stage 3: Portfolio and interview

Since Covid, interviews have been conducted virtually. A few weeks before the interview, trainees arerequired to upload their portfolio to an online portal. The portfolio requirements have changed significantly this year and you can access the complete scoring criteria through the HEE website. 

There is no minimum portfolio score required unlike with MSRA.

There are generally two examiners on the interview panel and the interview lasts around 10-15 minutes. 

You are not expected to have core radiology skills for this interview. The Interview is generally testing your commitment to radiology and communication skills. 

Stage 4: Results

All three parts mentioned above – MSRA, portfolio and interview score contribute equally to your final score (though MSRA had a slightly higher weightage in some previous recruitment rounds). Hence, if you feel you have a low portfolio score, you still have a chance to improve your overall score in the other two domains. 

Results are announced through ORIEL and via email. Upgrade options can continue for the next few weeks. 

How to increase your chances of successful application

1. MSRA – As mentioned above, the first crucial step is to achieve the cut off score in this exam. However, the aim should be to score as high as possible in this exam.

2. Portfolio – Start building your portfolio early. Building a decent portfolio requires smart work rather than hard work. For instance, leading two audits will fetch you the same points as leading four audits, as the points are not summative. Focus on achieving maximum requirements in all domains. If you have achievements outside of the UK – for example during your medical school – you can use these as well

3. Interview – Once you are invited to the interview, request the current radiology registrars and consultants in your hospital for mock interviews and feedback. Read the person specification released every year on OREL and try to demonstrate those skills during the interview. 

A brief note about ST3 entry

The Royal College of Radiologists has started to accept a few candidates directly at ST3 year level in the last few years. This is a great opportunity for candidates who have already completed radiology post graduation outside the UK and why now wish to train in the UK as well. The main eligibility requirements for these posts are:

1. FRCR Part 1 or equivalent
2. Full GMC registration and 36 months experience after registration (UK or abroad)
3. Evidence of achievement of ST1 competencies at the time of application, and ST2 competencies before training starts

Special Thanks for sharing information

Dr. Shitanshu Kalani (Radiology Trainee)

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