How to Get NHS Training Posts for IMGs

12 Minutes

Are you an international medical graduate searching for an NHS position? Like many other doctors looking at vacancies, you likely have your future in mind. If your career goal is to specialise, a training post will inevitably appeal. The question is, how do you secure a training post? And when is the right time to apply for one?

NHS training posts are notoriously competitive and tricky to get onto as an international medical graduate. In this article, we’ll dive into what training posts are, how to acquire one, and the best time in your career to do so.

What is an NHS Training Post?

An NHS training post is a position within the NHS that offers training and development alongside it. Every training position gets overseen by a relevant Deanery (designated by region), which provides you with a curriculum to follow. During a training post, you will do extra educational tasks on the side, such as updating an e-portfolio, attending teaching sessions, and taking exams. You’ll have an Educational and Clinical Supervisor to support you with this. At the end of a training post, you’ll end up with a qualification, usually CCT, which grants you access to the GMC Specialist Register.

It's helpful to learn what a non-training post is, too. A non-training post (also called an NHS service post) performs the same daily tasks as the doctors in training, only they don’t get the same official educational support, and it doesn’t lead to being on the specialist register. These types of post fill in the work rota, ensuring there are doctors always available. They’re a great starting place for those wishing to gain some experience and apply to training roles later on.

When Should You Do a Training Post?

Most doctors want to jump straight into a training post as soon as they can. After all, it’s the type of position that leads to career progression! However, we recommend IMGs take a slower approach. NHS training posts are competitive, and you are likely to succeed at getting one after you’ve worked for the NHS for at least a year. Doing one year of a service post will familiarise you with the NHS and prepare you for a training post. You should also consider whether a training role is even necessary for you. If you have already completed an overseas training programme then CESR or CESR-CP might be a better option.

Training Post Eligibility

Eligibility differs from post to post. When applying via Oriel, you will be able to see the specific eligibility criteria for each post. Only apply if you meet those criteria as you don’t want to waste your time on an application!

How Long Do Training Posts Last?

The length of a training post differs depending on which one you do. If you choose a general practice training post, it will take three years to complete. However, more niche hospital based specialities can last between five and eight years.

What Training Posts Can You Do?

If you’re a junior doctor without a speciality, you can work for the NHS by taking the PLAB exams and then applying to ST1 posts. That will get you on the route to completing your Certificate of Completion of Training, which, in turn, gets you on the specialist register.

However, if you’re an IMG who already has a speciality, and has a Royal College Qualification to prove it, you can begin your NHS career and apply to training at the ST3+ level. This will put you on the same route towards Specialist Registration, and you’ll then be able to work as a consultant.

How to Apply for a Training Post

Are you ready to apply for a training post? If so, you’ll need to use the Oriel portal – an online portal used for managing the entire specialist training recruitment process. Here is what you need to do.

  1. Set up an Oriel Account

NHS speciality training programmes get listed on Oriel. First, you’ll need to set up an Oriel account. It’s easy to do so – you only need to provide personal details upon registration.

  1. Search for Vacancies

Using the Oriel portal, you can start searching for vacancies. It will have a wide range of postgraduate speciality vacancies, allowing you to find the ones that appeal to you. Just make sure you meet the criteria before applying!

  1. Apply for a Training Post

Once you find a vacancy you want to apply to, you’ll need to submit an application. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd.

Tips for an Impressive Application

With the training posts being so competitive, it’s important to know how to nail your application and attached CV. Here are our tips for doing so.

Be Speciality-Specific

While your CV will be detailed, you shouldn’t include too much information that isn’t relevant. If applying for a speciality, make it speciality specific, focusing on how your experience will lend itself to the training post.

Check the Scoring Criteria

Each speciality will have its own scoring against a number of different components. Prepare yourself early by building evidence against all of these areas:

  • Quality improvement projects
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Leadership and management
  • Experience in teaching medical professionals
  • Additional degrees
  • Postgraduate exams
  • Additional electives, conferences, courses attended
  • Extra-curricular achievements

Use Evidence from the UK

If you have experience of working in the UK then use it to exemplify these areas. Whilst IMGs are given equal chance to apply for training, those that can show off UK experiences will score higher on most marking schemes.

Revise for the MSRA exams

If you are applying to GP, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Obs and Gynae, Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (CSRH), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Core Psychiatry or Neurosurgery you’ll be required to sit the Multi-Speciality Recruitment Assessment.

It’ll take a couple of months to prepare for and a successful score will help your overall application as well as improving your chances of making it to an interview.

Use a Logical Order

Generally, it’s best to list your experience from most recent to least recent, so that the most relevant experience is at the type. Make sure it’s clear, too – use bold headings to separate each section.

Use Action Words

Action words (also known as power words) ensure that your CV/application focuses on your experience. That includes verbs like supervised, influenced, managed, designed, created, launched, and so on.

Find a Mentor or Guide

Talk to doctors who have been successful getting in to training recently and ask them to read over your application. If you can find people who have been successful in the same specialism that you are pursuing that will be even more valuable.

Equally be wary of accepting advice from those that lack experience in training applications or doctors that made their applications a long time ago or in other specialities.

Explain Employment Gaps

In your application you’ll be asked to explain employment gaps – take the opportunity to do so. Do this for any gaps over four weeks long.

Challenges as an IMG

Training posts are extremely competitive. As an IMG, you might find getting one even harder, especially at first, because you’ll have no experience with the NHS. Even if you get a training post, you might feel overwhelmed with all the responsibility.

It’s important to remember that getting on speciality training is not a race – you don’t need to be in a training post straight after graduation or as your first role in the UK. We recommend the opposite. As a new graduate or an IMG with no NHS experience, you should gain at least a year of experience in a service post. You’ll still earn the same amount as you would in a training post, but you won’t be up against the same amount of competition. Plus, you’ll have an introductory period and many of the same supervisory benefits as a non UK doctor.

In Summary

You have two options when it comes to a job in the NHS: training and non-training. When first applying, consider pursuing a non-training position to gain experience. Once you’ve completed a year of that, you will have developed the skills and confidence to enter a training post, where you can start specialising and developing in your NHS career!

Get in touch if you would like to know more about how we can help securing your first role in the NHS from CV preparation, interview guidance and applications on your behalf.