A good application needs to be well thought through, so preparation is essential. The format of the application form will vary depending upon the training for which you are applying (e.g. Foundation, Specialty and GP).
The following points may help:
- Ensure you allow sufficient time to complete the application form, don’t attempt to complete a form in one sitting.
- First type your answers into Word so you can check word count, spelling and grammar (ensure the dictionary is set to UK English).
- Familiarise yourself with the person specification and scoring guidelines. Although the scoring guidelines are for the benefit of the scorer, it is useful to know what you are being scored against.
- Ensure you answer the question. The STAR model may help you to structure your answers.
STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. You should briefly outline the situation, giving more detail on the action you took, what you achieved and how you implemented the outcome. This is an area where candidates usually fail to score maximum marks, particularly when answering the section on audits. Please note: an audit is not automatically research work.
- Follow all guidelines carefully.
- Not following the instruction: if the information is required in the order ‘most recent first’, this is the order in which it should be presented.
- Not clearly identifying what was gained from experience.
- Not giving sufficient information regarding teaching experience: target audience, duration of teaching, whether it was a ‘one off’ or part of an ongoing programme you delivered.
- Areas outside medicine. Explain this clearly: what skills you gained and how the experience produced these skills.
- Lack of substance in the Personal Statement. This is your chance to interest the scorer and to draw their attention to your unique skills, experience and expertise. It may help to focus your attention by asking yourself what is the relevance of the information you are providing.
- Failure to clarify whether an MD was research-based.
- If applicable, not specifying the dates for achievement of Royal College exams.
- Not giving your application to at least one other person to read before submitting it.
- Consider being flexible with geographical location if going for posts that attract high numbers of applicants.
- Develop a back-up plan in case you don’t get your preferred position.
- Don’t forget further information and support can be found on Deanery websites, the MMC and National Medical Careers website.