The SCAN Career Planning Model =  Self Awareness   Career Exploration   Arriving at a decision  Next Steps  (this section) 

Applying to specialty and preparing for interviews

In this section we look at how make successful applications to speciality. This is part 4 of the SCAN model - Taking Action.

Hints on making strong applications & performing well at speciality Interview [Dr Ellen Adams: Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Registrar]

Hints on making strong applications & performing well at speciality Interview [Dr Kiara Vincent: Emergency Medicine Registrar]

5 top tips for making speciality training decisions [Dr Ellen Adams: Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Registrar]

Top tips for preparing for/choosing speciality [Dr Kiara Vincent: Emergency Medicine Registrar]


Where can I find out more about the application process?

Where can I find out information about the application process?

What information can I include in my application that demonstrates my commitment to a specialty?


Tasters help you to boost your commitment and reassure those recruiting that you are serious and informed abut the direction you have chosen. They are not a one way street either as they are also beneficial to Trusts. 

Benefits to you

Benefits for Trusts

•experience of a new specialty

•increase of exposure to one previously experienced

•experience of different locations and hospitals

•add to your portfolio

•create new contacts

•improve their image

•raise profile of certain specialties

•promote recruitment in shortage areas

Whilst some areas of the country may have lists of contacts and in the past have been very proactive in setting these up, in more recent years foundation doctors have needed to lead the process of securing one for themselves. So how can you do this?

Discuss with your supervisor – send an email/arrange an appointment – we know it is sometimes difficult to arrange meetings but keep trying but have:

Clear objectives - make it quite clear what it is you wish to achieve in undertaking a taster - for presenting to your supervisor and for your first contact in the specialty you wish to taste.  Are you mainly interested in trying the specialty or working in another area – or perhaps both

Flexibility on timings this is not easy but be as flexible as possible – you may not necessarily get consecutive days; on content: is it the specialty or location that is your priority

Be realistic  take account of the priorities of the team you wish to spend time in and what can be achieved.  This is important to discuss when you meet a contact that will be responsible for you during the taster

Use your networks – involving your supervisor has the added benefit of possibly being able to access their contacts but in a later slide we will consider how you can develop your own networks

Aim to stay local – you are more likely to be successful by sourcing through trusts where you have worked or hospitals in the locality.  Not impossible to access other locations – especially if you wish to move elsewhere after foundation but this be more difficult and will need more planning

Be Curious – embrace the unexpected opportunity that may not quite fit the picture of what you had in mind

Be persistent - Don’t give up at the first hurdle


Networking with other health clinicians can help you determine your career goals and set you up for lifelong success. It can help you assess where you are, where you’re going, and where you want to be, and it can introduce you to new friends that can become colleagues or research partners.

Practical Understanding - Effective networking can be imperative to inform your career planning. Utilising or developing your network will allow you to gain a greater clarity around the content and context of roles or specialities of interest. In addition, your network can widen your perspective of trust culture, politics and hierarchies which is often difficult to ascertain from purely web based research.

Opportunity Awareness/ Recruitment - Although many roles are advertised through national websites such as NHS Jobs  - many opportunities are highlighted through word of mouth or recommendation particularly in the areas of projects or research. Highlighting your interests to your networks is a way of raising your awareness and being open to these opportunities when they may arise. In addition, your network could provide you with particular knowledge of trust application and interview processes to aid your preparation.

Demonstrate or Develop Skills and Experience - Your network may also give you the opportunity to demonstrate or develop specific skills and experience e.g. leading or collaborating on a research project, audit, paper or presentation

Enhancing your profile and motivation -Being an active, supportive and flexible member of networks can also raise your profile in organisations of interest e.g. colleagues in your network who know your skillset, strengths, interests and motivations can make introductions or promote you to key individuals.


What resources can support me writing applications?

What resources can support me writing applications?

How competitive is the application process for different specialities?

Competition Ratios

Full data on competition for different specialities is given here . When using data we recommend that you look over a range of years to identify trends (eg growing or declining popularity).  


How can I prepare for interviews?

How can I prepare for interviews?

How can I create a good evidence portfolio?

How can I create a good evidence portfolio?

Key resources for making speciality applications

The full application process for specialty recruitment can be found here  

Speciality Recruitment - person specification/ competition ratios

NHS Health careers - key information by speciality area

BMJ Specialty Guides – ‘complete guides’ – on a range of specialties

BMA Speciality Explorer  - online questionnaire linking specialities to your preferences

ACF  - National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) - key ACF information

F3/Gap Resources  - a variety of links including working abroad, further study & fellowships

Alternatives to Medicine  non-clinical career options

Oriel  - speciality recruitment platform

IMT Recruitment

GP Recruitment