A career in the medical specialty of allergy offers real opportunities for either the clinically or academically inclined.
For the practical and pragmatic there is plenty of scope for clinical innovation; for those interested in the big questions, the UK has a strong pedigree in allergy research, whether clinical, epidemiological or basic science.
Allergy trainee characteristics
Allergy will particularly suit trainees who:
want to offer holistic care to patients with chronic disease
like working in multidisciplinary teams and collaborative working with other specialities
love the challenge of a tricky or unusual diagnosis
are driven to improve patient care either locally or nationally
wish to pursue basic, epidemiological or clinical research
want a healthy work-life balance.
Working in allergy
There has been a huge increase in allergic disease over the last three decades.
While much allergic disease can be dealt with in primary care, some requires specialist input; the remit of the allergist is varied and includes severe asthma, crippling hay fever, life threatening food and drug allergy, spontaneous angioedema and urticarial.
The allergist focuses on identifying the underlying cause of these - identifying the allergen – as much as the symptomatic treatment.
Most importantly, allergists improve patients' quality of life. From the management of hayfever to dealing with frightening and life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis, allergists provide care that empowers patients and lets them get on with their lives.
Most clinical care in allergy is outpatient-based and within office hours. Allergy care is patient-focused and delivered by a multidisciplinary team.
Allergists share patients with respiratory physicians, dermatologists, ENT surgeons, gastroenterologists, immunologists, occupational health physicians and paediatricians, and there are plenty of opportunities for collaborative working. Most children with allergic disease are looked after by paediatricians.
Allergy is a small speciality and offers plenty of opportunities to be involved in training and national committees.
Training & career development
Training is usually based at a single centre (usually a teaching hospital) though travel elsewhere may be required for the more specialised aspects of the curriculum. There are currently seven training centres nationally.
National training days are arranged by the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the Association of Clinical Pathologists, and allow trainees to network nationally.
There are ample opportunities and support for research and higher degrees, but these are not essential for career progression.
There has been a steady increase in consultant allergist numbers over the last decade.
MRCP and a good knowledge of general medicine are essential for allergy.
Some prior experience in allergy is desirable, and can usually be obtained by contacting your local allergy service and sitting in on clinics; most doctors gain little or no experience of the speciality during their training and early years (though will likely have seen plenty of patients with allergic disease).
You can also enter allergy through the academic route (ACF and ACL).
Find out more about allergy and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.
Dr Joanna Lukawska has kindly provided the following case study about her career in allergy.
General / application queries
For general queries relating to areas such as eligibility criteria, making an application or the Oriel system, please contact the Physician Specialty Recruitment Office via email at email@example.com.
Queries regarding the progress of a submitted application should be directed to the lead recruiter for this specialty:
|London and KSS (LaKSS) Recruitment|
|ST3/general queries||General enquiries - Enquiry Form|
|Fitness to practice/Disability/GIS queries - confidential||https://lasepgmdesupport.hee.nhs.uk/support/home#4|
This specialty uses the standard ST3 eligibility criteria, and does not accept candidates from any alternative training routes.
Please visit the am I eligible? section of this website for further information.
National single centre model
This specialty uses the single centre recruitment model.
You will not be required to give any preferences of particular regions when completing your application; you are applying purely for the specialty at that stage.
Later on, you will be required to give preferences of the available posts – at that point, you can opt to be considered for as many (or as few) post vacancies available nationally as you wish.
Lead region and single centre interviews
The specialty will nominate a particular region to act as lead for the round; this region is shown under the 'Who do I contact?' tab above. This lead region will review all applications, liaise with all candidates, host interviews, verify assessments, and make offers on behalf of all regions nationally.
Your application will be handled solely by the lead region throughout the entire round, up to the point where you receive and accept an offer; after which it will be transferred to the region where the post is based for pre-employment checks.
All interviews will be held at this lead region although the clinicians making up the interview panel will be drawn from a national background – ie not just from the host region.
Joint allergy-immunology interview
The specialties of allergy and immunology - both of which will have ST3 recruitment managed centrally by London and Kent, Surrey & Sussex - hold a joint interview process.
Regardless of whether a candidate applies to the specialty of allergy or to immunology (or to both), they will sit one single joint interview; the assessment from which can be used to ascertain their suitability and readiness for progression to a post in allergy and/or immunology.
Provisional post numbers
Specialty vacancy numbers are available in the table below, broken down by region and divided between substantive national training number (NTN) and locum appointment for training (LAT) posts.
It is the intention that initial post numbers for all regions will be published prior to the application opening date, although this cannot be guaranteed. Numbers will be updated as and when notifications are received from each region and will be checked later in the round when programme preferences are open for selection.
Numbers subject to change
Please be aware that it is not uncommon for vacancy numbers to change throughout the round.
More commonly, post vacancy numbers can increase as the round goes on (and confirmation of posts becomes available); but it is also possible that numbers can reduce as well. On average post numbers rise between 20-40% from the start to the finish of the round but this can vary greatly for individual specialty/region combinations.
It is possible that regions which do not have a post at the start of the round may declare one after applications have closed. Whilst we try and minimise instances of this, it is not always possible to predict vacancies so even if there appears not to be a vacancy in your preferred specialty/region combination, you may wish to consider applying in case one becomes available during the round; you can check with the region concerned if you wish to check on the likelihood of a post arising.
Generally, once a region enter a post into a round they would always have at least one post available and would only withdraw it in exceptional circumstances.
Round 1 Interview dates & posts
In this round, the specialties of allergy and immunology will hold a joint interview; whereby applicants to either specialty will undertake the same interview. Those applying to both will need only undertake one single interview.
|Region||NTN posts||LAT posts*||Interview date(s)|
|HE East Midlands||0||N/A||
11 March 2020
|HE East of England||2-3||N/A|
|HE London and South East (lead)||0-1||N/A|
|HE North East||0-1||N/A|
|HE North West||
|HE South West||
|HE Thames Valley||0-1||N/A|
|HE West Midlands||0||N/A|
|HE Yorkshire & Humber||N/A||N/A|
It is possible that there could be changes between now and the interview period. Please bear this in mind when reviewing the information below, although in most cases it is not expected this will change, or any changes will be minimal. You are advised to check back in closer to the time of interview. The date at the foot of this page shows when the page was last reviewed.
The specialties of allergy and immunology have elected to hold a single, joint interview again for 2020 ST3 recruitment.
The joint interview will be a single, three-station interview, which will be attended by all candidates applying to either specialty (or both).
You will spend approximately 15 minutes at each of the three interview stations, with three-to-five minutes' transfer time between each. Thus the overall time for the allergy/immunology interview will be approximately 55-60 minutes.
For details of how scores are awarded at interview, and weighting that is applied subsequently, please see the scoring page of this website.
Interview assessment applicable only to applied specialty/ies
The assessment received by candidates from this interview will be applicable for both specialties. However, candidates can only be considered for the specialties to which they have submitted an application. If you wish to be considered for both specialties please submit one application for allergy, and a second for immunology.
Click on the relevant stations below for more information on the content of the joint interview.
Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.
This is where your application form and training to date will be reviewed. This will include checking the documentation you have brought along to ensure all content on your application form is correct.
Normally your evidence folder will have been reviewed by the interviewers immediately prior to your arrival in the station. They will be:
• Checking that your achievements in your evidence folder match that claimed on your application form.
• Considering your career progression to date.
• Identifying areas about which they may wish to question you during the interview.
Areas for assessment
The two main aspects of discussion here, on which you will be assessed, will be your suitability for and commitment to ST3 training in the specialty, and your achievements and engagement with training and learning to date.
Scoring at the station
It is important to recognise that the scores awarded to you at this station will not purely be about your achievements, as this already contributes towards the scoring via your application form. Interviewers will be deciding upon scores via a combination of factors, for example: your responses to the questions asked, the breadth and quality of your achievements and your career progression.
Prior to arriving at station 2, you will be given a clinical scenario to review. Upon arrival at the station you will be asked questions relating to this scenario.
The clinical scenario will be relatively brief (two/three sentences), so once you have read this, the remainder of the pre-station time will allow you to undertake some short preparation (just mental preparation - this does not mean making notes, etc.)
The scenario will describe a hypothetical clinical situation which has arisen in which you are, or have become, involved. Some points to consider when reviewing the scenario and preparing for discussion are:
what steps you would take
any potential treatments possible
any further information you would gather
how you would go about communicating with any people (eg patients, family members, colleagues) involved in the scenario.
You should take into account any other factors you deem appropriate, using your experience and professional judgement.
Areas for assessment
One mark will be awarded to you based on your suggestions and responses to the clinical scenario. The second mark will be on the communication skills you display.
This will be both an assessment of how you would communicate with patients, colleagues, etc. in the scenario, as well as of how well you communicate with interviewers at the station.
You will spend 15 minutes at station 2. All of this time will be given to discussion of the clinical scenario between you and the interviewers.
This station will feature discussion of research and academic medicine, followed by discussion of a question on the subject of professionalism & governance.
Research/academic medicine discussion
The first area for which you will be assessed at station 3 will be a general discussion on the subject of research and academic medicine .
No specific preparation will be required of you here, and you will not receive data in advance as you did with the clinical scenario.
However, we would advise undertaking some general preparation. For example, familiarising yourself with the process by which medical research takes place and progresses, from initial setup to report; as well as any areas of research that interest you, and the challenges, benefits, costs, etc. of research more broadly.
Professionalism & governance
Following the research/academic medicine discussion will be a further discussion on the subject of professionalism & governance. This discussion will be prompted by a short question (often a single sentence) provided by interviewers. This will not be given to you before arriving at the station - this will be given verbally by interviewers once the academic/research discussion is finished.
This section of the interview is designed to assess your demonstration and understanding of professionalism and governance considerations in a given situation.
Familiarise yourself with Good Medical Practice
Please note - this discussion will be underpinned by the principles of GMC Good Medical Practice.
Areas for assessment
The first area for which you will receive a score at station 3 will be your demonstration of your knowledge, awareness and understanding of medical research and academic medicine. The second will be your understanding and application of the principles of professionalism & governance.
Station 3 will last for 15 minutes in total. As with station 1, interviewers will look to divide this time between the two different assessment areas relatively evenly, although the changeover of subjects will not necessarily take place exactly at the 7.5-minute mark.
Appointable - automatic
If you are awarded a score of at least 3/5, for all marks given to you at your interview, then you will automatically be classed as appointable.
Not appointable - automatic
If any of the 12 scores awarded to you at interview are 1/5, this will reflect poor performance and an area of major concern.
If four or more of your 12 interview scores are of 2/5, this will reflect several areas of concern across your whole interview.
Should your interview assessment fall under either category above, the level of concern over your potential progression to ST3 will see your application classed automatically as not appointable.
Appointability subject to panel decision
In the event that your 12 interview scores contain one, two or three marks of 2/5 (and the rest 3/5 or above), your appointability status will be subject to discussion in the post-interview 'wash-up' meeting.
The clinicians who have interviewed you will discuss your general performance during the interview and any concerns or otherwise they have about your application as a whole.
Should they deem it appropriate, your application will be classed as appointable, and you can then be considered for post offers; whereas if they feel their concerns are too substantial for this outcome, they must class your application as not appointable, and it will progress no further in the current recruitment round.
Review vs automatic status
Please note there is no distinction made between candidates judged as appointable automatically, and those classed as appointable on review. Once deemed appointable it is only your overall score which will be used to determine ranking.
Total score calculation
After interview, a weighting is applied to the scores in each area, as well as the application form score, to give a 'total score'. This score determines your ranking which is used to inform how offers are made. The weighting of different sections, as well as the method by which your total score is established, can be seen by clicking on 'Total score calculation' below.
Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.
|Int. 1||Int. 2||Weighting||Max score|
|Evidence||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Suitability for specialty||/ 5||/ 5||x1.2||/ 12|
|Clinical scenario||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Communication mark||/ 5||/ 5||x0.8||/ 8|
|Academic||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Professional and governance||/ 5||/ 5||x1.2||/ 12|
|Raw interview score||/ 60|
|Interview score (including weighting)||/ 80|
|Short-listing (app form)||/ 80||x0.25||/ 20|
|Overall assessment score||/ 100|
As part of the process of applying to ST3, you may wish to gain an idea of how recruitment progressed in previous years for the various specialties participating in the nationally-coordinated recruitment.
To this end, we have published data dating back to 2013 (where this is available), based around four main areas:
Competition ratios - application numbers submitted to each specialty, along with the number of NTN and LAT posts available in each. It is worth noting that posts are subject to change throughout the round (increasing on average between 20-40%), and post numbers for this data are taken at the end of the round.
Shortlist scores - the scores awarded to all submitted applications, including average scores and distribution nationally.
Total scores - the total score awarded to all candidates who completed the full recruitment process for a specialty (application and interview), including some analysis of scores.
Post fill rates - the number of posts filled by region.
We have published information for all specialties participating in our process that year; consequently not all specialties will have data in all cases.
| LAT |
| Total |
* the percentage of unique candidates that only applied to this specialty (out of the 24 RCP-coordinated specialties)
|Year||Apps.||NTN posts||LAT posts||Total posts||Comp.|
|2016||Did not participate in round 2|