ST3 Surgery Training (Dr. Anu’s story)
My route to training in the UK
I graduated from medical school in India in 2017. I then proceeded to do an extra year in India as a junior doctor in surgery from 2017-2018. During this period, I completed my IELTS, PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 exams. Just after PLAB 2, I stayed in UK for 6 weeks and completed a clinical attachment for 2 weeks in A/E and 3 weeks in General Surgery.
My clinical attachment played a key role in getting me a job in the UK. Despite not being able to prescribe, I played an active role in the surgical assessment unit by clerking all the patients that came in and presenting it to the registrar/consultant. I also did a clinical audit with one of the surgical consultants and presented it at the directorate meeting. My consultants noticed my active participation and offered me an interview for an SHO post, for which I was appointed in February 2019.
I started my first job in the UK as CT1 equivalent SHO in Feb 2019 and I held this post till February 2021, i.e, for 2 years. During this period, I was very active in the department, and focused on the points highlighted in the self assessment checklist.
OPERATING NUMBERS –
I took the initiative to attend any free lists, even as a third assistant in some cases. I came into the hospital on weekends to do appendicectomies with registrars, if the SHO was not keen. I wanted to be independent in appendicectomies and I must have scrubbed into 50 appendicectomies, before I was allowed to do my first surgery skin-skin. Being fresh to surgery, I also used this time to practice hand knot tying and basic laparoscopy.
AUDITS + PRESENTATIONS –
I took up multiple audits and also managed to complete the second cycle of the audit I did during my clinical attachment. This happened to be a quality improvement (QI) audit, and thus I managed to complete a full cycle QI audit. I found a regional QI meeting through my hospital audit department and one of my F1s presented it at this meeting. During Covid, I found international conferences, through which virtual presentations were being conducted and submitted my projects to these conferences. I thus managed to achieve 2 international oral presentations, and 1 national poster presentation. By the end of 2 years I had 4 audits (1 full cycle) and 3 presentations.
I discussed with other SHOs and F1s in my department and I conducted a poll to find out what teaching would be suitable to be conducted on a regular basis. We discovered a lot of junior doctors were keen to learn suturing and hand knot tying. My colleague and I thus set up a suturing workshop conducted once every month for 1.5 hours, after work. We would finalise attendance 2 weeks prior to the date for the workshop and as we only took in a small number, the attendance for these sessions was usually high. We took formal written anonymous feedback from all candidates at each session. I got one of my consultants to attend and sign off on the teaching, to make this a formal department recognized teaching being conducted by trained professionals. Eventually registrars signed up to teach, and the attendees were handed out department/hospital recognized certificates. It was a win-win for not only the registrars, but also the attendees.
I had no publications at the time of application. I had been involved in many papers but none had been published.
My timeline in the UK prior to application-
2017 : Graduated medical school. I had received one merit of distinction in 3rd year medical school and I was able to use this for my application. I was also involved with student council and was the magazine editor for our batch yearbook, which I showed as my leadership qualities.
2017 -2018 (F2 Year in India) – one year work experience and did my exams
2019 – 2021 February – SHO CT1/2 equivalent in general surgery
2020-2021 – I applied for ST3 applications in 2021 October and was successful in my first choice of prefernce.
2021 Feb – Stepped up as a registrar in my hospital, where I worked till September 2021 as a trust grade.
I took time off From September 2021 till October 2021 for a month to visit family and unwind. I started my ST3 general surgery training job in 2021 October.
Of note, I had applied for CST in 2020, and was unsuccessful in my application. By October 2021, I felt I was too skilled and experienced to do 2 years of an SHO job again. I was already leading ward rounds, taking on bleeps in the on call and given more theatre responsibility. Moreover, the limitations for CCT had been removed and now we are provided full CCT even if we begin our training for ST3 and hence I applied for ST3 in 2021.
The application scoring does not require large commitments. Even simple routine things you might have done in medical school, can be used in your application for teaching/leadership. Any presentation done within 5 years of application can be used as well. It just requires planning to tick box and score high in all domains, and a lot of preparation for the interview. The interview is key to a job, if you make it to that point.
All the best to all in their applications. I understand the scoring criteria has changed since I applied, but I am happy to provide any advice as needed.
If need to contact/ask anything, you can email her or Dm on facebook , details below
Dr. Anuradha Ashouk ( firstname.lastname@example.org )