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 LETB/HEEs?
  • 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 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 you 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 trainee level.
  • 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.


Competition Ratios

  • When considering which posts and specialties to apply for you need to consider carefully the likely levels of competition involved, and 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 HEE to which you are applying. For example, changes in demography (e.g. 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 the website for details of 'Competition Ratios'.
  • Leaflet: Using Work Force Statistics To Help With Career Planning


Know how to apply

Go to for details of 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 


Informational Interviewing

One of the ways that can help you to clarify what it is like to work in a particular 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.

  • Leaflet: Informational Interviewing - Please 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 a 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.