Thousands of doctors are currently preparing portfolios and stressing about situational judgements as they go into core and specialty training interviews. As a medical student I wasn’t even aware when these interviews were and had only the briefest imaginings of what they might entail. Even at finals, specialty applications felt a million miles away; but it’s as if you’ve only just got through the misery of MTAS and you’re suddenly an F2 realising that the last 15 months have, to your surprise, disappeared.
Yes, the interview is certainly a stressful situation, and for many medics it’s only the second ‘proper’ interview they’ve ever had. Time pressures, the scope of stations and performing under the watchful eye of the great and good of the medical profession only add to the stress. But, there are ways to make this process bearable, and, dare I say it, enjoyable (kind of).
The most important step is preparation. Not just the preparation that starts in the days to weeks before the interview; this should be for refining your skills, getting your answers super-slick and getting to know yourself inside-out. Preparation starts at university (and no, which school you’re in doesn’t make a single difference). What the interviewers are looking for can be found in the person specification unique to each specialty (found at http://bit.ly/1eWF6aN). I.e. if you know you were born to perform heart surgery, start looking at what the interviewers for cardiothoracics are looking for. Even if you’re completely confused about your career path, it’s time to start thinking.
Many specialties still have a short-listing stage dependent on the application form. Whether assessed on the form or at interview each specialty will (generally) award points for other/higher degrees, publications, presentations, prizes, teaching experience, audit and ‘commitment to specialty’. At the CT1/ST1 stage it doesn’t matter what subject area you published/presented/taught in etc. to score in that section; but having something relevant will help you discuss your commitment to that specialty. ‘Relevant’ in itself is misleading however; every experience is likely to be relevant when you identify the transferable skills involved and what you learned from the experience. Some specialties are stricter and you’ll need demonstrable evidence that you haven’t just applied on a whim. These tend to be the more competitive specialties which demand evidence you’ve had a really good look at what the job involves and have taken steps to broaden your knowledge.
There is typically also at least one skills station which may be general (e.g. breaking bad news to a patient) or specialty-specific (e.g. interpreting images for radiology) but are still based on applicants demonstrating they fit the person specification. Many of the mark schemes are also freely available on the relevant Royal College website, and I encourage you to have a look and see where you could get a few more points (or give yourself a pat on the back that you couldn’t). It’s unlikely that the mark scheme/person spec. will be exactly the same every year, but the general overview is enduring.
NB. The GP application is a bit different, but that’s for another post.
The take home message is get involved early on, and be involved consistently. It may eat up some of your free time but you’ll appreciate it as soon as you look at the application form. If you’re struggling for practical ideas, take a look at the Royal College and specialty trainee websites for inspiration (some, for example the Royal College of Radiologists, have great audit ideas). The RSM and each medical school have a list of available prize essays and exams. A wise person once said to me “there’s no such thing as a wasted conversation”: Speaking to trainees and consultants about how they got to where they are not only gives you great insight into what they do but being friendly and enthusiastic can open up doors for you to help in audits and publications. And the final tip? Write everything down. Not only will this stand you in good stead as a safe doctor, but you’ll be surprised how much you can forget in a very short time. Then, unlike me, you won’t have to spend ages trying to think of reasonable examples of ‘when I dealt with stress’.
Written by Lydia Spurr, FY3 Doctor
Lydia is a Resident Meducation Blogger
The relationship between patients and doctors has long been based on face-to-face communication and complete confidentiality. Whilst these fundamentals still absolutely remain, the channels of communication across all sectors have changed monumentally, with social media at the forefront of these changes.
Increasingly patients are taking to the Internet to find recommendations for healthcare professionals and to self-diagnose. By having an online presence your business can positively influence these conversations – engaging with the public and colleagues both locally and globally and can facilitate public access to accurate health information. The reality is social media is here to stay, so in 2014 why not make it your resolution to become part of the conversation.
To get you started and so that social media isn’t seen as such a daunting place, SocialB are providing a free eBook containing lots of fantastic advice on how to use social media within the healthcare sector ‘Twitter for Healthcare Professionals’ please visit http://www.socialmedia-trainingcourses.com/top-10-twitter-tips-ebook/ to receive your free copy.
Here are 5 top tips on using social media in 2014:
1. Decide on your online image and adhere to it
Decide how you would like to be portrayed professionally and apply this to your online presence. Create a tone of voice and a company image – in line with your branding and values – and stick to it.
2. Be approachable, whilst maintain professional boundaries
Connecting with patients via social media can help to ease their concerns and develop a certain rapport or trust with you prior to their consultation. However, this must remain professional at all times, and individual advice should not be given. The general rule is that personal ‘friend requests’ should not be accepted; connection over corporate pages and accounts is encouraged to maintain a traditional doctor-patient relationship.
3. Contribute your knowledge, experience and industry information
Social media is a fantastic way to launch an online marketing campaign. Interaction with your patients and potential clients via social networks is an inexpensive way to engage with, and learn from your audience.
As a healthcare professional, you will inevitably take part in conferences, training days and possibly new research. Social media allows you to share your knowledge, enabling your market to be better informed about you and your work.
4. Treat others how you wish to be treated
By engaging with other means that they are more likely to take notice of, and share, your social media updates. Sharing is key and it is this action that will substantially grow your audiences. Maintain your professionalism and pre-agreed tone of voice whilst communicating with others. Make it easy for peers and patients to recommend your level of skill and service, and ensure you recommend fellow healthcare professionals for the same reasons.
5. Consider your audience
Whilst you may be astute at targeting a particular audience as a result of careful market research, always be aware who else can see your online presence. Governing bodies, competitors and the press are just a few examples. Whilst social media tends to be a more informal platform, by following the above points will ensure your professional reputation is upheld.
Thank you Katy Sutherland at SocialB for providing this blog post.
I read a BBC article today about a doctor who had filmed examinations of women for voyeuristic purposes. One quote in particular stood out:
"We had the challenge of identifying and locating a large number of women and explaining to them that their examinations had been secretly recorded by Bains for the purpose of his sexual gratification. It was horrendous. They were unaware that they were victims and this dated back over a three-year period."
At least 30 women have been contacted to be told they were victims of someone's perversion. Until they were told, they had no idea they were victims. Only upon being told will they feel disgust and violation, not to mention distrust over future consultations.
It reminded me of a discussion recently on here where a student was telling us about an experience where they saw a patient with horrific stitching and scarring after surgery. The doctor told the patient that it all looked like it was healing fine, then after the patient left, commented to the student that the stitching was some of the worst they'd ever seen.
Was the doctor lying or being compassionate? Should the police tell the perverted doctor's victims, or leave them in peaceful ignorance?
As I patient - I think I'd just rather not know, but I believe many doctors would argue that full disclosure is essential, especially in light of the Francis Report. I would be interested in medics' views, from ethical, procedural and "real-world" points of view.