The key to success in the General Surgery interview is preparation. Candidates will have a much greater chance of success if they start preparing early and wisely. This requires planning and a combination of solo reading with group practice. Below we have tried to summarise the best methods of structuring your interview practice, and finished the section with a selection of texts that we have found very helpful. We’ve also developed a General Surgery ST3 Interview Question Bank to help you prepare.
- Preparation for this interview begins at the start of CT1. This is because the clinical experience required to score maximum points takes time to develop.
- It is highly recommended to have at least 12 months of elective and emergency general surgery experience. This allows you to develop the necessary WBAs and logbook experience.
- Ensure you read the application guidance and interview format at the start of CT2 so that you can plan your revision accordingly as if this were an exam.
- Look through the individual components of your portfolio and ensure you can score maximum points in each section.
- For example, ensure all your audit cycles are completed and submit abstracts to national conferences (e.g. ASGBI) early on.
- Go to every General Surgery course that you can – there are many courses on the RCS website e.g. Core Skills in Laparoscopic Surgery.
- Some candidates choose to do an extra postgraduate qualification e.g. a distance learning PGCE in medical education, to score extra points.
- Ensure you make sure all your WBAs are validated by Consultants and show progression from level 1/2 to 3/4. Review the Core Procedures for General Surgery on the ISCP website.
- Review the mark schemes and recommended reading on this website. Start reading these essential books/websites early.
- Review and learn all the model answers on this website and practice saying them out loud.
- Find other core trainees and arrange to meet up on Microsoft Teams on a regular basis. Practice the interview stations under timed conditions.
- Give each other feedback based on the Pendleton model so that you can learn from each other.
- Find the ST3 trainees in your hospital and arrange interview practice sessions.
- Nearer the interview, practice under timed conditions that are stricter than the formal interview.
- There are several commercial interview preparation courses which can be expensive and vary in quality.
- These are useful for candidates who are not able to practice with other trainees or who would like more general interview practice.
Indicative Post Numbers via Oriel website.
The latest application documents can be found on the Oriel website:
- Log in to the website using your username and password
- Click on the ‘Vacancies’ tab
- Under ‘Training Programme’ select ‘General Surgery’
- Under ‘Include closed vacancies’ select ‘Yes’
- Select ‘General Surgery – ST3’ recruiting for United Kingdom for the year of interest
- Click on ‘Documents’
Recommended books and websites
- ‘Cracking the Intercollegiate General Surgery FRCS Viva’ by Ball (CRC Press) – the ‘Emergency Surgery’ chapter provides excellent model answers for clinical scenarios.
- ‘Oxford Handbook of Emergencies in Clinical Surgery’ by Callaghan, Bradley and Watson (OUP) – the chapters ‘Trauma emergencies’, ‘The acute abdomen’ and ‘Ward emergencies’ provide quick and easy summaries of clinical management of most emergencies.
- ‘Core Topics in General & Emergency Surgery’ by Paterson-Brown (Saunders) – a good evidence-based overview of all the emergencies with which a General Surgeon should be familiar.
- CCRISP Manual
- ATLS Manual
- ‘Emergency Surgery – Standards for unscheduled surgical care’ by Royal College of Surgeons. Make sure you understand the minimum standards for emergency care in the UK e.g. all admissions should be discussed with the on-call Consultant within 12 hours of admission.
- ‘Consent: Supported Decision-Making’ by Royal College of Surgeons.
- ‘Caring for patients who refuse blood – a guide to good practice’ by Royal College of Surgeons.
- ‘0-18 years: guidance for all doctors’ by General Medical Council.
- ‘Medical Interviews’ by Picard and Wood (ISC Medical) – the ‘difficult colleagues’ chapter provides clear model answers using the ‘SPIES’ structure.
- ‘Surgical Leadership – A Guide to Good Practice’ – Royal College of Surgeons.
- ‘The High Performing Surgical Team’ – Royal College of Surgeons.