Choosing a Medical Speciality

I would strongly advise all of you to think very carefully when choosing what career to pursue when you have completed core medical training. As well as the 30 medical specialities to choose from there are other options such as general practice, radiology and medical microbiology or even a non-clinical career in, for example, industry. The resources in the careers section of this website, particularly the careers support form will help you with making your decision. Even if you are fairly sure about what you want to do it would be worth completing the form in order to ensure you have made a decision in line with your strengths and aspirations. The national Medical Careers website is also worth a visit.

Details about the different medical specialties and their curricula are available on the JRCPTB website. Person specifications, details of application processes, sample application forms and the most recent competition ratios can be found on the Medical Speciality Training website.

Detailed information about the 22 medical specialities recruited by the Speciality Recruitment Office of the Royal college of Physicians (RCP) along with some details of the ten other physicianly specialties can be found in the ST3 recruitment section of the RCP website.  Two other useful areas of the RCP website are "how to apply to a training post" and "how to prepare for an interview”.

"Careers for CMTs" is a PowerPoint presentation which I have designed to be used as a template for a teaching session for CMTs but can equally well be read by CMTs on an individual basis. I will update this at least once per year so that it contains up to date information.


  • This is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life so it is vital that you get it right. Try to make an objective decision when you do not feel under any stress.
  • Always have a well thought through backup plan B in case you cannot get into your first choice speciality.
  • Start targeting your CV towards your chosen speciality as soon as you have made your career decision by, for example, attending relevant courses and completing relevant assessments etc
  • Make sure your completed application form clearly demonstrates that you meet all the essential criteria in the person specification
  • Most application forms are scored initially by a computer, which can only measure the easily measurable – like your degree(s), prizes, presentations and publications – so if your CV is weak in these areas you are unlikely to be short-listed in a popular speciality in a popular Deanery. Be realistic!
  • If consultants in your chosen speciality generally take part in the acute medical on call rota, dually accrediting in G(I)M will improve your employability
  • Consider Academic Medicine: it is a particular strength in the East Of England – if you have an aptitude [it is fiercely competitive]
  • Consider the smaller specialities: historically almost all these have had low competition ratios despite their obvious potential as a rewarding career
  • Don’t rule out the speciality doctor route, especially if you want to stay in a particular location

Head of School of Medicine