If delivering high-quality, patient-centred care is up your street, then palliative medicine could be the specialty for you.
Its rewards are endless, which shouldn't be surprising given that its hallmark is holistic care of the highest possible standard.
Palliative medicine - trainee characteristics
Those entering the specialty should:
be skilled communicators, with the desire to improve yet further
bring enthusiasm and dynamism to multidisciplinary team-working
have an interest in ethical issues and a commitment to finding the best way forward when challenges arise
enjoy complex decision-making, often as part of a team, and always in conjunction with patients and families.
Working/training in an ST3 palliative medicine post
Palliative medicine specialist training is like no other. You will learn to care for patients with a great range of illnesses, of all ages and in all settings.
Contrary to misconceptions, it is about far more than dying; rather it is about enabling patients and families to make the most of living.
You will strive to provide optimum symptom control, psychological support and practical assistance to those with both malignant and non-malignant life-limiting conditions.
Your training will take you into patients' own homes, to A&E departments, hospices, oncology and renal units, and more.
This breadth of experience is key; as a consultant you may work as part of a hospital, hospice or community palliative care team, or often a combination.
Palliative medicine's evidence base is evolving at a great rate, although it will never be a protocol-driven specialty.
It requires you to think on your feet, and to use empathy and pragmatism, as well as science, to make the right clinical decisions.
Specialist training can be entered from a variety of core training programmes (medical, surgical, anaesthetic and GP). It is completed over four years full-time, or pro-rata if training flexibly.
There are numerous opportunities alongside your clinical training to participate in education, research and service development.
Palliative medicine is, without doubt, a challenging field in which to work. However, the potential for improving patients' and families' quality of life is vast, and therefore the rewards are there for the taking.
Your only challenge is in gaining one of the highly sought-after training posts. Go for it!
Find out more about palliative medicine and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.
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 ST3medrecruitment@hee.nhs.uk.
Queries regarding the progress of a submitted application should be directed to the lead recruiter for this specialty. The lead recruiter for palliative medicine in 2020 is West Midlands.
|Health Education West Midlands|
|Postal address||Health Education West Midlands
St Chads Court
213 Hagley Road
Please be aware that the specialty also accepts applicants from emergency medicine, GP, surgical, and anaesthetic training routes.
Non-physician applicants must have obtained the basic specialty professional examination relevant to their training pathway prior to the start of ST3 training, in addition to specific clinical experience. Therefore applicants seeking a position in palliative medicine must have one of the following:
- Physician training (eg IMT) - MRCP(UK) Part 1 at time of application; full MRCP(UK) by required deadline
- Emergency medicine - MCEM (part A) at time of application; full MCEM by required deadline
- General practice - MRCGP (AKT) at time of application; full MRCGP (with CCT) by required deadline
- Surgery - FRCS (Primary) or MRCS (Part A) at time of application; full FRCS or MRCS by required deadline
- Anaesthetics - FRCA (Primary) at time of application; full FRCA by required deadline
Please view the palliative medicine person specification for information about the experience and competency required for applying to palliative medicine from a non-physicianly training background.
Please note that palliative medicine has a separate 'Alternative certificate of core comptence' than other medical specialties and applicants who have not come via IMT need to be able to have this form completed at time of application. The form is available to download from the document library of this website.
Medical trainees please view the standard eligibility criteria as detailed in the am I eligible? section.
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.
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
|Palliative medicine 2020 R1ST3 post numbers & interview dates|
|Region||NTN posts||LAT posts*||Interview date(s)|
|West Midlands (lead)||6||N/A||
|East of England||1-2||N/A|
|London and KSS||
London - 0-1
|Yorkshire & Humber||4||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.
You will spend approximately 10 minutes at each of the three interview stations, with three-to-five minutes' transfer time between each. Thus the overall time for the interview will be approximately 40-45 minutes.
Click on the relevant stations below for more information on the content of the 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.
This will then be followed by a discussion on professionalism & governance.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.)
Scenario considerationsThe 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.
Professionalism & governance
Following the clinical scenario will be discussion of professionalism & governance.
This discussion will be prompted by a short question (often a single sentence) provided by interviewers. This will be given verbally by interviewers once clinical scenario discussion is finished.
This section of the interview is designed to assess your demonstration and understanding of professionalism and governance in a given situation.
Familiarise yourself with Good Medical Practice
Please note - assessment of professionalism and governance is underpinned by the principles of GMC Good Medical Practice.
This station will feature assessment of an ethical scenario, and discussion of your communication skills.
As with the clinical scenario at station 2, this takes the form of a hypothetical situation, described briefly in text form, details of which will be given to you before arriving at the station.
This scenario focuses less on a clinical situation, and deals more with consideration of the moral, ethical, legal (etc.) issues and communication requirements which may arise in a particular situation.
The ethical scenario will last for eight minutes and includes an actor for role play.
Following the ethical scenario will be a two minute reflection of your communication skills displayed at this station. Here you will reflect on how well you think the ethical scenario went.
Areas for assessment
One mark will be awarded to you based on your suggestions and responses to the ethical scenario. The second mark will be on the communication and reflection skills you display.
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.
If your 12 interview scores contain one or two marks of 2/5 (and the rest 3/5 or above), and you receive a total raw interview score of 36 or above, 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 three 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 falls under either category above, the level of concern over your potential progression to ST3 will see your application classed automatically as not appointable .
Total score calculation
After interview, a weighting is applied to the scores in each area, and a score derived from your application form is then added to give your 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.
Application score calculation
The initial application score is used to shortlist applications. At interview this specialty reviews achievements from the application form against the re-scoring matrix in the document below to calculate the score which will contribute to the total score.
Whilst some achievements do not directly contribute to the re-scoring matrix, they will form part of the interviewers’ assessment in station 1 when awarding their score. In particular, quality improvement and teaching normally form a major part of the questioning in this station and as such are likely to significantly influence interviewers’ scoring; which will affect both the total score and determination of appointability. Thus these two domains should not be overlooked or considered any less important in any application.
|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|
|Professionalism and governance||/ 5||/ 5||x1.2||/ 12|
|Ethical communication scenario||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Communication mark||/ 5||/ 5||x0.8||/ 8|
|Raw interview score||/ 60|
|Interview score (including weighting)||/ 80|
|Evidence score - scored at station 1, based on achievements claimed on the application form||/ 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.
|Year||Apps.|| NTN |
| LAT |
| Total |
* the percentage of unique candidates that only applied to this specialty (out of the 24 PSRO-coordinated specialties)
|Year||Apps.||NTN posts||LAT posts||Total posts||Comp.|