Securing a cardiology speciality training programme in the UK: how did other people do it?

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Abstract

Background

Application to cardiology specialty training is competitive with uncertainty among candidates as to what the secret recipe for a successful appointment is. We aimed to investigate objective variables, which were demonstrated by successful appointees to cardiology training schemes in the UK.

Methods

Data from successful cardiology applicants for the years 2014 to 2016 were obtained from the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board under the Freedom of Information Act. These data included basic demographics as well as objective scores awarded for selection categories such as qualifications, academic, teaching and other achievements.

Results

There were a total of 976 applicants during the study period, of whom 423 were successfully appointed, generating a competition ratio of 2.3 applicants for each position. There was an increasing proportion of successful female applicants (22% in 2014, 28% in 2015 and 32% in 2016). Median scores for postgraduate exams (14/14), presentations (6/6) and quality improvement (10/10) scores corresponded to maximum possible scores, whereas median scores for additional undergraduate and postgraduate degrees were 0. Median scores for prizes, publications and teaching experience were 6/10, 4/8 and 9/10, respectively.

Conclusion

The secret to a successful cardiology training appointment is associated with completion of all postgraduate clinical exams, completion and presentation of quality improvement projects, national presentations and substantial teaching achievements. At least half of the successful candidates had no additional undergraduate or postgraduate degrees but had evidence of some prizes and publications. The ratio of successful female candidates is rising, but remains less than males in cardiology training.

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