Workforce, training and education
East of England

Career Exploration

Ask yourself the following questions and see how many you can answer well.

  • What have you found out about this specialty and why does it attract you?

  • How do you see the speciality developing?

  • How long have you considered a career in this area?

  • What would you find the most challenging aspects to this specialty (links to self-assessment)

  • What particular aspects of the speciality are you interested in?

  • How does your CV look – would it impress a potential employer? Do you need to undertake some activities to boost your CV?

  • Have you considered a number of speciality areas not just those you have had experience of?

  • Are you aware of the specific resources and careers events available to you run by the BMJ, Royal Colleges, and Health Education England?

  • Are you considering time out, work abroad or flexible training? If so they will all need career research and planning.

Useful places to start

It is extremely important to undertake extensive research on the career areas you are considering in order to gain a realistic view of what such employment might entail and knowledge of the skills and experiences required to enter this specialty area. This research should be invaluable and will then help your success in securing a position. Such research can involve:

  • Researching through books, websites more on the speciality area and how it is likely to change and evolve throughout future areas

  • Talking to people already working in that speciality area both at consultant and junior trainee level career

  • Organising a taster

Here are a number of resources that may help - it is up to you to select those most appropriate to your career planning. 

Career stories

Medical Careers Website has collected together a wide collection of career stories covering those for particular speciality areas see Career Stories

The career stories of others can help determine what you may need to do to help pursue your chosen path. 

Know how to apply

Go to for details on how to apply for specialty training. Dates and the process do change slightly every year. You can also see the person specifications for all the different speciality areas on the same website

Also see our Downloadable Leaflet on Ten Tips for applying for speciality training

Know the Jobs Available

Wales Deanery and the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Health (NLIAH) have produced an extremely useful interactive tool which explains the links between different stages in the medical careers pathway.

Competition Ratios
  • Downloadable Leaflet on Using Work Force Statistics To Help With Career Planning.

  • When considering which posts and specialties to apply for you need to consider carefully the likely levels of competition involved and to be prepared to be flexible about choices.

  • You should also think about the way that healthcare is developing in the future, as well as the competition involved in your chosen specialty and/or the deanery to which you are applying. For example, changes in demography (for example, an increasingly elderly population) and patient expectations are creating a rapid trend towards more healthcare being delivered in the community and primary care settings in the next five years. Around half of the training posts in the next few years will be in General Practice, whereas the number of posts in surgical specialties is decreasing.

  • See website for details of competition ratios Competition Ratios – a video will help to clarify why this is important and there are also links to the centre for workforce information Centre for Workforce Information (CFWI)

Informational Interviewing

One of the ways that can help you to clarify what it’s like to work in a specialty is to speak to doctors working in that specialty area. An information interview is an easy way to research specialty-specific information.

When speaking with doctors regarding their specialty, you may wish to consider asking some of the questions which will provide you with information which should help you in deciding about that particular specialty. Download Leaflet on Information Interviewing for ideas of questions you can ask. Note that some questions might be targeted or specific whereas others are more open-ended providing a chance for open discussion about the specialty.

Recommended Activities
  • Think about the specialty areas that you are interested in pursuing, and using the resources construct a list of things you may need to do in the next few months to help you with securing a job e.g. speaking to someone in the role, organising relevant taster etc.
  • Once you have decided what you need to do work out a specific timescale for your initial career plan; this could include making an appointment to see a careers adviser, arranging to attend a careers event e.g. careers fair or engaging in other activities to gain specific experience.

  • Have a discussion on your career with your educational supervisor.

Tuesday, 18 December, 2018
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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018