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This post has been submitted by a doctor who wishes to remain anonymous.
I completed my internship as a part of my medical school requirements. After graduation, I worked in paediatrics in the country where I graduated for two years, one of which was dedicated to academic work. Therefore, I had around 1 year of clinical experience in paediatrics (where I got my Foundation Competencies signed off) and 1 year of academic experience. After this, I went to another country and spent 2.5 years in full-time academic work in paediatrics.
During my full-time academic work, I completed PLAB 1, PLAB 2, got fully registered, and completed MRCPCH FOP and attained PLS and APLS.
I applied to ST1 training in November 2018 while still away from the UK with no UK work experience and was fortunate to have been shortlisted for interview.
As an IMG having to pass the RLMT, I put Scottish programmes at the top of my preferences during this Round 1 application since, in Scotland, paediatric trainees are on the shortage occupation list. If you are applying in Round 1 Re-advert, you are not limited to which programmes you can list, since in R1R there is no limit on where IMGs can preference.
I arrived in the UK 2 weeks prior to my job’s start date, and the interview happened to be a few days after I arrived, in the same city as my new job.
So bearing this in mind, I attended the interview with no experience of working in the UK. I saw this as an opportunity to be good practice for re-applying the following year.
I read the ST, CT, and Registrar Interview book cover-to-cover and did not get a chance to practice. I reviewed APLS scenarios and reviewed how drug charts are written. I read the RCPCH guidance fully a few times and familiarised myself with what was involved in the interview. I also went to the interview venue the day before my actual interview to ensure I wouldn’t be caught up in terms of finding parking, not finding the entrance, etc.
As a male applicant, I dressed in a suit and tie, and saw that I was one of the few who were dressed like this. Many others dressed as how they would dress in a clinical job (rolled up sleeve, no tie, etc). Ladies appeared to have mostly been dressed as how someone would dress in a clinical job in the UK – dress below the knees, with some in trousers/suit.
The interview comprised of a few stations, each of which had two consultants as interviewers. One station (clinical thinking) had a third person taking notes in the corner in the room.
The stations had the following score structure with points from each subsection (with subsections from the interview I attended – subsections may differ depending on each interview):
Communication (40 points)
– Introduction/General approach and attitude (10)
– Listening and non-verbal communication (10)
– Verbal communication skills (10)
– Content (10)
Clinical thinking (40 points)
– Assessment (8)
– Escalation (8)
– Teamwork/leadership (8)
– Communication (8)
– Ongoing management (6)
– Portfolio (4)
– Significant achievement (4)
– Understands the qualities of a good paediatrician (10)
– Role modelling (6)
– Resilience (6)
Governance and reflective practice
– General approach (6)
– Content (6)
– Planning and implementation (8)
– Description of event (6)
– Learning and role (6)
– Reflective practice (8)
Safe prescribing (10)
The interview started out with a safe prescribing station where everyone in the interview group were in one room, each at a table with a BNF for Children on it. In this station we were given a clinical scenario and prescriptions we had to write: one was to be given immediately, and one was to be given IV a few times a day. Some things to keep in mind for this was that we have to write prescriptions in CAPITAL LETTERS, sign and write our name/designation, as well as write dosages out. I advise looking up some UK drug charts to see what one might look like. These were nearly identical to the ones I saw at work after I started.
After this, we were led to a corridor with different doors and a chair outside each door. One station, the communication station had a clinical scenario with a short history of a child’s clinical situation, and our task to communicate something to a parent. This can be anything from breaking bad news to communicating to a parent that we would need (or need not) keep a child in the hospital.
The next station was a clinical thinking station where we were given a situation and had to talk out the station. (e.g., a child presents with fevers with possible signs of sepsis – what do you do?)
The next station, clinical governance, was one where you may be asked about a medical error or structure in the NHS.
The last station was the portfolio station, where one interviewer looked through my portfolio (which cannot be over 12 sides!) and the other asked questions like why I chose paediatrics, what I was most proud of in my portfolio, and who inspired me the most (I mentioned a family member, and they followed on by asking how this relates to paediatrics!)
After the interview, I did not feel very confident. I realised some things I had missed, and some mistakes that I had made on the prescribing station. I felt that it was a good experience to have gone through the interview and left it at that.
On the day the offers were released, I was offered a training post in my fourth choice and feedback on my interview performance was emailed to me, telling me how I had ranked, what minimum score was required to be appointable, and what score I had achieved.
Among the 400+ applicants, I had ranked better than I had anticipated, and got a score well-above the minimum for being appointable.
I hope this is helpful to anyone who might consider applying to paediatrics training. As you might know, there are many unfilled slots each year, and the children of this country need you. I wish you all the best!