Medical oncology is a dynamic and rapidly evolving speciality which involves both cutting edge research and a commitment to the care of a varied and often complex patient group.


Medical oncology trainee characteristics

Medical oncology will particularly suit trainees who:

  • have good communication skills
  • enjoy practising evidence-based medicine; by analysing and adapting the results of recent research in order to optimise patient outcomes
  • are interested in a broad spectrum of academic research, including basic and translational science and clinical trials
  • can work as part of a multidisciplinary team, including surgical oncologists, clinical oncologists, palliative care physicians, radiologists, pathologists, and clinical nurse specialists.

Working in medical oncology

One half of the UK population will develop cancer during their lifetime and the majority will undergo specialist treatments aimed at either eradicating or controlling the cancer, to maximise quality of life and patient outcomes.

This burden of disease is predicted to increase as the population ages and has led to high levels of government funding for clinical and research posts in medical oncology.

The remit of medical oncology is broad, ranging from pure translational or clinical research to management of patients with a wide variety of acute and chronic illnesses in the clinical setting.

Underlying these diverse aspects of medical oncology practice is the necessity to regularly assimilate the changing evidence base which results from the high level of active research in the speciality.

This, and the ability to work collegially with surgeons, clinical oncologists, radiologists, palliative care physicians and clinical nurse specialists are the key attributes needed to progress in this field. To support this, and recognising the significant overlap between Medical and Clinical oncology specialties in practice, a new curriculum will be introduced during 2021, creating common ST3 outcomes with Clinical Oncology.

The treatment of cancer has evolved rapidly within the last decade, and the United Kingdom remains at the forefront of this research. Exciting, new therapeutic strategies have emerged, entered practice and remain the subject of active research.  For example, a growing understanding of the molecular biology of malignancy has led to therapy that can be personalised to target the genetic or proteomic phenotype of each patient's cancer.  Furthermore, drugs altering the immune response to cancer have been practice changing in selected groups of patients and cellular approaches to harnessing the immune system to target cancer are also looking promising. 

Medical oncologists are the key specialists at the core of this 'bench to bedside' research. One of the aims of medical oncology is therefore to progress the results of molecular and genomic laboratory research into large-scale clinical trials of novel agents which may offer meaningful benefit to patients with cancer.

In order to encourage this physician scientist approach, many trainees will take time out during their specialist registrar training programme to pursue a higher degree  (MD or PhD). New discoveries and developments in cancer therapeutics will continue at a rapid pace over the coming decades and medical oncology will therefore remain an exciting and dynamic specialty.

Additionally, the NHS Acute Oncology programme will provide many future career opportunities within the hospital setting.

Overall, this is a great time to consider medical oncology as a career.


Medical Care

Find out more about medical oncology and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.


Further information

    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.

    Queries regarding the progress of a submitted application should be directed to the lead recruiter for this specialty. The lead recruiter for medical oncology in 2021 is London and KSS (LaKSS) Recruitment:

    London and KSS (LaKSS) Recruitment
    ST3/general queries General enquiries - Enquiry Form
    Fitness to practise/Disability/GIS queries - confidential https://lasepgmdesupport.hee.nhs.uk/support/home
    Website http://www.lpmde.ac.uk/laserecruitment/

    Eligibility

    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.

    Please note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, certain recruitment processes have been affected for round 2 ST3 PSRO-coordinated specialties. As a result, the below information on this page is not applicable for this round only and should not be used where the process has changed. Please refer to the applicant guide for the latest information about how round 2 will operate.

    Further guidance about the scoring format of interviews will be published to each specialty page and we hope to have this updated by application closing date. Please visit the specialty pages closer to the time for updated information.

     

    Interview content

    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.

    For details of how scores are awarded at interview, and weighting that is applied subsequently, please see the scoring page of this website.

    Communication skills

    Implicit in all six areas assessed across the three stations will be an assessment your communication skills - eg of how you would communicate with patients, colleagues, etc. in a given scenario, as well as your communication with interviewers at each station.

    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.


    Establishing appointability

    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 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 .

    Appointability subject to panel decision

    In the event that your 12 interview scores contain one or two 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, 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. 

    page updated 6 December 2019

    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

    Region NTN posts LAT posts* Evidence upload date(s)Interview date(s)
    East Midlands

    TBC

    N/A

    TBC

    TBC

    East of England TBC N/A

    London and KSS

    TBC

    N/A
     N/A
    North East TBC N/A
    North West

    Mersey
    TBC

    N/A

    North Western

    TBC

    N/A

    South West

    Severn

    TBC

    N/A

    Peninsula

     TBC

    N/A
    Thames Valley TBC N/A
    Wessex TBC N/A
    West Midlands TBC N/A
    Yorkshire & Humber

    TBC

    N/A
    Northern Ireland TBC TBC
    Scotland** TBC TBC
    Wales TBC TBC

    *English LATs

    Please note, English regions do not recruit to LAT posts.

    **Scotland post numbers

    If you are interested in working in Scotland, a breakdown of post numbers by the four Scottish deaneries is available on the Scottish Medical Training website. This has details of all specialty training post numbers in Scotland, including specialties which are not part of the nationally-coordinated process.

    Please note that whilst we endeavour to keep the Physician ST3 recruitment website up to date, the SMT website will always be the more accurate one where they differ.

    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.

    Interview content

    The interview will consist of four questions which range between 5-7 minutes in length. You will be scored by two interviewers on each question.

    Including time for questioning and scenario reading, the interview will be approximately 25-30 minutes.

    Please note that this is subject to change and will be confirmed by the date of interview.

    Scoring Framework

    The score of 1-5 an interviewer will award you for each assessment area is judged in relation to how well you perform against an expected level. Below is the framework used to award scores at interview, as well as interpretation of what these scores represent:

      

      

      

    Mark

      

      

      
      

      

      

     Rating

      

      

      
      

      

      

    Assessment

      

      

      

    1

    poor

    not considered appointable

    2

    area for concern

    performed below the level expected; possibly unappointable, subject to discussion and performance in other areas

    3

    satisfactory

    performed at the level expected during CT2; the candidate is suitable for an ST3 / LAT post

    4

    good

    above average ability; the candidate is suitable for an ST3 / LAT post

    5

    excellent

    highly performing trainee; the candidate is suitable for an ST3 / LAT post

    As shown in the table, for each of the question areas at interview, 3/5 is considered a satisfactory score; and reflects the level of performance that would be expected of a trainee ready to progress to a specialty training programme.

    Should your performance go above and beyond this expected level, interviewers can award marks of 4/5 or 5/5 as appropriate.

    Conversely, should your interview performance not reach the expected level, then interviewers can award marks of 1/5 or 2/5, as reflects their level of concern over your performance.


    Appointability

    From the eight scores awarded during your interview, an 'appointability' status will be calculated to determine whether you can be considered for an offer.

    The intention is to ensure successful candidates can display competence consistently across all areas of assessment covered at interview, rather than allowing outstanding achievement in one or more areas to make up for sub-par performance elsewhere.

    Appointability is awarded automatically and is based on two factors: individual interview scores and the 'raw interview score'.

    Appointability criteria

    To be classed as 'appointable', you must meet three criteria below:

    • none of your 8 interview scores can be 1/5
    • no more than two of your 8 interview scores can be 2/5
    • your RIS must be 24 or above.

    If you meet all three requirements, your application will be assessed as appointable, and can progress to be considered for post offers.

    However, if you fail to meet any of these requirements, your application must then be assessed as not appointable, and it will progress no further in that round.


    Total Score

        

     

      

        

     Interviewer   1

      

        

     Interviewer   2

      

        

    Weighting

      

        

    Max score

      

    Question 1

    Clinical scenario

    / 5

    / 5

    2.5

    25

    Question 2

    Professionalism & governance

    / 5

    / 5

    1.8

    18

    Question 3

    Academic/research

    / 5

    / 5

    2.5

    25

    Question 4

     

    Suitability & commitment

    / 5

    / 5

    1.2

    12

    Raw interview score

    / 40

    Interview score (w weighting)

    / 80

     Application score

    / 56

    0.36

    / 20.16

     Total score

    / 100.16