The attached information sheet will provide you with hints and tips for completing both Foundation and Specialty Training application forms.
Hints and Tips for Completing Application Forms
Planning and Preparation
Do not write anything until you have:
Read all supporting documentation. Pay particular attention to:
• The Job Description
• The Person Specifications and the Application Form, so that you understand what is required from you.
• Person Specs for specialty training are available on the MMC website. The Person Specs will make it clear to you which Specialist Training (ST) level you should be applying for – http://www.mmc.nhs.uk
• Click here for a link to the Foundation Programme website, which contains all key documents. http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/pages/home
Familiarise yourself with any other material that is mentioned e.g. the person spec for Foundation shows that the application form will be used to measure whether an individual:
Can demonstrate an understanding and application of good clinical care and maintaining good medical practice as set out in Good Medical Practice (GMC 2001) http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/good_medical_practice/index.asp
Can demonstrate an understanding of the outcomes to be achieved and how these standards are applied in the Foundation Programme as set out in Tomorrow’s Doctors 2009 http://www.gmc-uk.org/education/undergraduate/tomorrows_doctors.asp
REMEMBER your application form is your personal marketing tool – use ALL documentation provided to help you tailor your responses.
Start gathering your evidence before the application process starts i.e. when answering competency based questions you will have to describe a real-life experience, either from your medical work and/or extra-curricular activities. The Person Spec will give you some idea of the competencies that will be tested on the application form.
• What examples do you have?
• How unique are they? i.e. are they likely to be very similar to other doctors or can you provide examples that might stand out from the crowd?
• What role did/do you play e.g. if you are using an extra-curricula activity as an example, what was your role e.g. Chair, Secretary, Captain etc.
• You will need to use different examples for each question posed.
Ensure that you have gathered together the dates and titles of qualifications, publications, research, audits, presentations and posters.
Do your career research! Ensure that you really know why you are applying for a particular specialty/specialties and what you can bring to these specialties in terms of skills, personal attributes, enthusiasm etc.
Determine how long it is going to take you to complete the application form and ensure that you put this time aside. You know the way you work best, just do not leave it to the last minute as the silliest of mistakes are usually made when you are in a rush.
REFEREES – contact them now to check that they will be happy to support your application.
• Where possible, type content in Word first so that you can spell and grammar check prior to pasting into the online form.
• Typing in Word will allow you to check word count.
• Do not type everything in upper case as it is too difficult to read.
• Proof reading – try all three of the following:
Non Medical Person
It may be very helpful to get feedback from a non-medical individual, particularly around the competency questions, as lay people may take part in the marking process.
Tackling the Competency Questions
You may already have developed a technique that will help you successfully answer the competency based questions – great! On the other hand if you find that you are struggling you may find it helpful to familiarise yourself with the STAR Technique described below.
This particular technique has been used by many people for applying for jobs across a variety of professions and has proved to be an effective way of getting an answer across in a logical, efficient and effective way.
S T A R
Break your answers down in the following way:
• Provides the reader with the context for the ACTION
• Make your description CONCISE and INFORMATIVE
• Concentrate only on RELEVANCE to the story and message you are trying to communicate in your answer – do not paraphrase the question!
• Be very aware of your word count – DON’T overdo the description
• Only give clinical information if directly relevant to answering the question
Example (using an old GPVTS question)
Give an example of a situation in which you had to deal with a difficult colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
Briefly describe the situation and how the colleague was being difficult.
This is where you demonstrate and highlight the skills and personal attributes that the question is testing.
• Explain what, how and why YOU did it. Demonstrate what you did i.e. talk about YOU not everyone else
• Give some detail, but beware of giving clinical information unless it is necessary to your example.
• The actions you describe should highlight relevant skills.
• Explain the outcome of YOUR action
• Describe what YOU accomplished
• Show that you have reflected on the situation by stating what you have learnt – this adds the personal element and will show that you can think laterally and fully about a particular issue
Try the technique for yourself!
Below is an old GPVTS question just to get you started …..
Describe a situation when you demonstrated your ability to empathise with a patient. What did you do well and what could you have done better?
• Target Jobs - Advice Section for Medicine http://www.targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/medicine
• http://www.gprecruitment.org.uk/downloads.html– the GP National Recruitment Office website with example competency based questions for you to try out
We have included a final section which links to useful resources. Please feel free to contact us with your recommendations so that we can add them to the list.