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This post has been submitted by a doctor who wishes to remain anonymous.
I came to the UK straight after completing one year of House Job (Internship).
Entry into the NHS
After I passed PLAB, I worked in A&E for 8 months. After that, I got a job in neurosurgery, where I worked for 16 months. In neurosurgery, I was overly enthusiastic and I was able to take part in a lot of procedures, research, teaching and update my e-logbook and ISCP.
After 16 months of neurosurgery, I got a bit sick of surgery altogether. I had always heard that I could not apply in Round 1 and even though I knew it was possible, I could not help but be burdened by the negativity spread by others.
So I applied for psychiatry training, with an open mind to see if I liked it as it was remotely related to some of the research I had done. If not I was ready to apply for Core Surgical Training (CST) as we are allowed to apply in Round 1 if we are in any training programme as we are sponsored by the HEE.
Even in psychiatry, I focused on teaching medical students; I was able to do a few audits aswell. I was dead honest with my associate tutor and all of my supervisors that I was making my mind between psychiatry and surgery to which they appreciated my honesty.
When I had made my mind that I could not see myself doing psychiatry anymore (massive respect to anyone who does it as they are unsung heroes) I would take my annual leaves to do surgical courses such as ATLS, Basic Surgical Skills and Craniotomy Simulator course, which is neurosurgery related.
Core Surgical Training Application
I applied for Core Surgical Training in November 2018 and got an interview invitation. I focused on my portfolio. You can search for core surgical portfolio checklist 2019 via Google, which gives a very good impression of how many marks you will get for each section of your portfolio. I can safely say that I may have read the surgical portfolio checklist at least a thousand times.
During my interview, I was dreading one question that was ‘why are you in psychiatry training if you are so committed to surgery?’. The best part is I never got asked that as I had shown my commitment to the speciality in so many ways. Kindly see the checklist for commitment to speciality section. As for the other stations, I did not go to any interview preparation courses but I have heard these courses are amazing so I highly recommend them. I believe that you just need to know what to expect from the interview to get into CST. It has been perfectly explained by here.
The most important thing is that you follow the portfolio checklist and maximize your scores; of course, be in a training post, may it be FY2 LAT or any other training programme so you can apply in Round 1.
I remember when I was in A&E medical consultant told me, after telling him I wanted to do surgery, “the sooner you stop thinking about getting into surgery the better it will be for you“. I do not blame him for his negativity maybe he thought he was doing me a favour by telling me not to go into something that might be difficult and full of struggles so I never held it against him. But that did not stop me from persevering, keeping my head down and eventually getting into training.
Hopefully, this will help everyone who wants to get into surgery and can give them hope that it is possible, you just need to have faith and not be discouraged. You are way better than you think you are. The only thing holding you back is the RLMT which we now know there’s a way around. Best of luck to all the aspiring IMG surgeons to be!