Experience of Applying and obtaining a Higher Speciality Training / ST 3 post as an IMG in Medical Specilties

¬ Dr. Irfan Qamar


   Seven months back I moved to UK from a very well settled Job in middle east after completing my MRCP exam and the only aim to move  to this country was to enter a higher speciality training with a special interest in respiratory medicine.

    When I was moving to UK everybody around me, my colleagues and my friends thought that I am making a big mistake, it’s a perception in the mind of many people that life in UK is very tough and you will keep on struggling for a training slot but will never get it and you will not able to earn and save money. A part of this perception might be right, but one must take risks in life to progress in life.

     After my results of IELTS I directly applied on NHS jobs official website although I do get a lot of calls form many medical recruiting agencies but what I found was all the jobs which were mentioned by the recruiting agencies were also on NHS jobs website and there is no difference in applying directly as compared to medical recruiting agencies.

I got a job in acute medicine as a middle grade (registrar level) in a big DGH (district general hospital) I got my COS (certificate of sponsorship) and visa without any difficulty. The procedure is very simple and very well explained over internet.

    The beginning of a new career in altogether a different health care system was never easy, but all the people including administrative staff, consultants and colleagues were very supportive and helped me a lot to settle in the new system. My education supervisor was very helpful he was always willing to help me whenever it was needed, he also held long meetings with me just to help me to understand how things work in NHS. I was told many scary stories about NHS that you would be put alone on the duty at middle grade where you must make many bold decisions all about yourself and you would be under tremendous pressure to make such decisions, but honestly, I was never given any responsibility until and unless I was fully prepared for it. I did many mistakes as everyone is expected to do in a new system, but I was always given a feedback in a very positive way so that I can improve myself and grow professionally.

     After settling down in the new system, which took me around three months, I started to work on my application for speciality training in Respiratory medicine. First and most important thing is you need to be eligible for application for which you need Your core competencies signed off by consultant with whom you have worked in last three years and have worked continuously for three months.  As I was applying for ST3 i.e. speciality training year 3 so I need to give a proof that I have attained all the competencies that are required during year 1 and 2. Generally in UK they are attained during core medical training Hence easily called as core competencies. Their is a form which is available on ST3 recruitment website which has all the competencies mentioned on it all you need to fill it up and get it signed by the consultant. I informed my consultant well ahead of time that I need this certificate to be signed by you he agreed and started to observe my skills in managing a patient and in doing the common medical procedure. He observed all the procedures which are on that form and finally he signed it for me. I want to let you people know that any consultant with whom you have worked can sign that form it is not necessary that he should be GMC registered or he should be from UK. However, he should be a physician (medicine or allied specialties). the other requirements to be eligible are much easy to attain you should have an ALS advance life support they do not accept American heart Association ACLS.

I am writing it for middle grade doctors, so I assume that most of you have completed your membership exam MRCP that is another requirement to start ST3 training. If your are in UK core medical training, you can apply and start your training without passing PACES but cannot continue your training if you fail to pass it in first few months. They also require a proof of English if medium of education was not English in your medical college.

Then there are many more things which are in the application list for which you get marks which are very important indeed because for limited number of seats you need to get marks to become a competitive candidate. The List is long and easily accessible on ST3 recruitment website few things which you can work on to get more marks are, try to do a audit in your trust rather a full quality improvement project other things would be your research or case report publications and your presentations in various conferences the more you do the more marks you get and better are your chances to be selected. For me I did a quality improvement project and I already had publications in international journals along with poster presentations and end of the day every single thing counts.

Now that I have worked up on my eligibility and various other things to secure more marks the time came to apply for the ST3 post it was Round 2 and round 2 is easy for foreign graduates as less locals will be available during this round. You complete your application on oriel website and apply on the same website the website is simple and easy to use once the application is completed and submitted its time to sit back relax and prepare for the interview.

The interview invites will be based upon your numbers which you claim during your application and they mainly are on your academic achievements like I have already mentioned. Don’t waste your time and just wait for the invite as sometimes the invites are over short period of time so start preparing for your interview as soon as possible. I studied two books for my interview one was oxford hand book of respiratory medicine and other was Medical Interviews,” comprehensive guide to CT, ST and registrar interviews it’s a very good book and most of the non-medical questions asked during interviews are almost covered in it. At least one read is a must especially for some one like me who is not trained in NHS.


Interview format is different for different specialities and can also keep on changing but it is given on ST3 recruitment website, till now so many times I have referred to ST3 recruitment website, it’s official website for recruitment at registrar(ST3) level and is very important with all the information you need from preparing your application to interview and all things after interview. therefore, it is very important that you know your format right from the beginning of the interview so that you prepare according to that format.

For me the most difficult thing was to prepare a research article as it was in the format of respiratory medicine interview that you should prepare a relevant research article and present it in four minutes during one of the stations in interview. I went to one of the respiratory consultant and directly asked him about the article and he gave me a very good study to present on COPD based on which the management guidelines were about to change. I would advise, do not just google and prepare any spontaneous article, choose your article very cleverly it should be some current or hot debate related or something important like based on which new guidelines are formed or old guidelines changed or some landmark trial, not just a spontaneous article or study. Because it should be used as an excellent opportunity for you to represent your interest in the speciality and to show the future potential for the development of speciality and your interest in it.

Always work on questions and prepare the individualised answers which should be true representative of your self not just the stuff available over the internet, try to support your answers from your life time examples. every answer should be indirectly showing some positive aspect of your personality and strong commitment to the field of Medicine and respiratory medicine. There wouldn’t be a lot of questions from your personality. During my interview the main focus was on three things First thing was commitment to specialty second thing was a clinical scenario along with relevant communication skills and third thing was the research article you need to present along with a ethical scenario. The Interview was very rapid three stations of 10 minute each and 5 minutes in between each station. One important thing about the interview preparation is your medical portfolio whatever marks you have claimed during the interview you should back them up with good evidence in it. The last thing any one would need is getting not appointable because of claiming wrong marks or not carrying the appropriate evidence with them to support it. I really worked on my portfolio arranging and organising the evidence so that everything looks professional. Again, there are guidelines on the ST3 recruitment website on how to arrange and organise your portfolio.

Once Interview is over, its time to relax and wait for the outcome initially they will ask you to give priority of the regions /deanery where you would like to spend next five years of your life as a registrar trainee later they will tell you your appointable or not appointable and will be given a rank number and based on your rank number and your preferences you would be matched to a region and this matching is more or less same as Match process in USA.

27th of September 2017, new offer received through oriel system. Respiratory and general internal medicine and that also in my top priority region Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery. Thanks to Allah Almighty for getting a training slot that will lead In Sha ALLAH to become a consultant.

In the end all praise to ALLAH ALMIGHTY who helped me to get a trainee post in less than a year in UK and all the theories of other people turn out to be wrong about my moving from middle east to UK as there is no match to be trained from a western country and there is little or no progression of career in middle east if you’re working their at junior or middle grade.

All the best for all those who want to move, or in UK and want to apply for ST3 training post.


 some useful links


Click to access General%20(Internal)%20Medicine%20ST3.pdf