Radiology ST1 application process

The Radiology ST1 application process is nationally coordinated and applications are made via an online platform called ORIEL. The application process has existed in its current form since 2016, when the Specialty Recruitment Assessment was first used to shortlist for interviews – prior to this, every candidate that applied would be interviewed, provided they were eligible.

What is the application process?

  1. Applications are made via the online platform ORIEL. This is a national application process encompassing applications within England, Scotland and Wales.
  2. The ORIEL application form includes a self-assessment score, based on the candidate’s personal achievements. Evidence to support this scoring will be uploaded onto the ORIEL system. The evidence will be reviewed by Radiology consultants to ensure the self-assessment scoring is accurate.
  3. All candidates sit the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) exam.
  4. Candidates are ranked using a combination of both their self-assessment score and their MSRA score. The top 55 scoring candidates bypass the interview and are offered places. They will be ranked 1-55 for offers.
  5. The reminder candidates (i.e. those that ranked 56 and below on their combined self-assessment and MSRA scores) are invited for interview.
  6. Interviews are held remotely on Microsoft Teams. Candidates who attend the interview have a final ranking based on a combined score from their self-assessment, MSRA score and interview score.

What is different about the 2020-2021 application process?

The 2020-2021 application process differs from previous years applications.

Firstly, not all candidates will need to interview. The top 55 ranking candidates will bypass interviews and automatically be ranked 1-55 for the purposes of job offers. This initial ranking is based on two criteria:

  1. MSRA score
  2. Portfolio self-assessment score (uploaded online during the ORIEL application process and verified by Radiology consultants)

The remainder candidates (i.e. ranked 56 and below) will need to interview. This will be a single interview conducted on Microsoft Teams. For these candidates their overall ranking score will be based on their MSRA score, self-assessment score and interview score. They will then be ranked from 56 onwards for the purposes of job offers.

It is therefore clear that a strong portfolio is more important than ever (possibly allowing you to bypass interviewing!) – please refer to our blog post on an expected marking criteria and how to boost your portfolio.

What is the timeline?

Milestone Date
Application window 5 November 2020 – 1 December 2020
Evidence verification upload 23 December 2020 – 7 January 2021
Invitation for MSRA Before 5 January 2021
MSRA window 28 January – 12 February 2021
MSRA result Before 26 February 2021
Interview invitation 19 February 2021
Interviews (remote on Teams) 9 March – 12 March 2021
Programme preferencing 1 March – 17 March 2021
Initial offers 12 April 2021

Important resources

Radiology applicant handbook

Radiology ST1 person specification 

How are training programmes ranked?

Candidates can view all the available deaneries on the ORIEL platform – the number of available places per deanery will be listed, although more specific details on each deanery are limited. Candidates can then rank deaneries based on preference via the ORIEL platform – you do not need to rank every deanery and you can exclude yourself from specific deaneries if you wish. This ranking process takes place before the results of the interview.

What is the offer process?

Offers should be circulated by 17:00 on 12 April 2021 (as per the RCR and ORIEL website). Essentially, candidates are ranked according to their overall score; based on this the top ranked candidate is offered their highest preference job that is available. This process is repeated for each candidate sequentially down the rankings until all jobs have been offered. If there are spare vacancies, there will be a clearing process.

How to prepare for applying for radiology

As described in the post about the application process, the overall radiology application can be divided into the Specialty Recruitment Assessment (SRA) and the interview itself. This post will focus on preparation for the interview.

The person specification for clinical radiology is perhaps the most important document to familiarise yourself with, prior to making your application.

Basic eligibility

In terms of the basic general eligibility criteria, most of it is basic stuff that the vast majority of candidates will automatically fulfil. More specific, unusual personal circumstances are beyond the scope of this post and you are better off emailing HEE London and South East Recruitment directly if you are worried you are ineligible. However, one specific point to make is that applicants must have 18 months or less of experience in Radiology (excluding Foundation Year modules) to be eligible to apply.

CV preparation

Your CV will form an important part of the application process. Please be aware, however, that unlike other specialty interviews, for radiology the interviewers will NOT have a chance to see your CV or portfolio beforehand. This year, although there is only a single interview station, candidates may be asked to talk about their portfolio and achievements, and it is therefore important to keep a few things in mind:

  1. You need to know your portfolio inside out – under the pressure environment of an interview you need to be able to quickly describe your key achievements to the assessors
  2. There is a limit to how much you can go through during the timeframe of the interview, and therefore concentrate on trying to have evidence of achievement in each criteria, rather than overly focussing on one area

In terms of the criteria listed by the person specification, overall domains include the following:

  • Commitment to radiology – unless you have actually worked within a radiology department, it is essential to have attended a taster week within radiology. Be prepared to talk about what you learned/ observed, and how it confirmed your desire to do radiology as a specialty
    • Attendance at radiology courses/ conferences will also provide evidence for your commitment to the specialty
  • Qualifications – this includes BScs, MDs, PhDs, and post-graduate exams (such as MRCP or MRCS)
    • BScs, MDs, PhDs are probably difficult to achieve within a short timespan, so do not worry if you do not have one. Few applicants will have MDs or PhDs.
    • On the other hand, it is worthwhile trying to pass some postgraduate exams, as this is something that is achievable within your Foundation Years (if you are applying from a more senior role such as Core Medical or Core Surgical Training, then chances are you already have these)
  • Research – particularly radiology-related. If you have a paper then this is ideal, although this may be difficult to achieve so do not stress too much if you do not have one. Even a non-radiology related paper is valuable
  • Audit – again, it is better to have a radiology related audit. It is probably easier to get a radiology related audit (compared to a radiology related paper) so it is worth focusing your efforts on this, especially as many other candidates will have one. It is better to have completed the audit loop, as this demonstrates clinical improvement/ improvement to patient safety
    • In terms of getting involved with a radiology audit, speak to current trainees or consultants in your radiology department
    • The RCR has a list of “audit recipes”, where they have provided templates of audits, including the audit background, cycle, targets and criteria. This saves you having to come up with audit ideas yourself!
  • Teaching – all applicants will have done some teaching. In order to stand out, consider attending a teaching course. Alternatively, consider organising a teaching programme for medical students (beyond the isolated single sessions that most people do). In terms of presenting teaching feedback, it may be worth collating feedback into a few pages summarising favourable comments/ data from your overall teaching – this avoids the problem of shuffling through pages and pages of feedback forms
  • Management and leadership – this is a bit more vague and difficult to provide evidence for.
    • Consider attending a management/ leadership course (if feasible)
    • Alternatively, consider providing examples in a non-medical context (e.g. leadership roles within university societies, from hobbies etc)
    • The person specification also suggests providing examples from multi-source feedback assessments

Professionally written Radiology question bank

Competition is fierce, so let us give you that extra edge to get the job.

Further reading

More tips on smashing your Radiology interview.
Radiology Interview


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