In this blog post, Dr. Antigoni Elisseou shares her experience of successfully applying for WAST scheme in 2018 and her work experience.
WHO AM I:
My name is Antigoni Elisseou and I am a Doctor from Cyprus that studied in a medical university in Europe (in Bulgaria to be exact).
I would like to share my WAST experience with you with the hope to help anyone that is wishing to apply but they are wondering what it involves.
I found out about the WAST scheme when I was applying for the foundation program in the UK. And since my interest is psychiatry the WAST scheme draw my attention and I applied hoping to get through.
WHAT IS WAST SCHEME:
Based on MY understanding at the time, WAST scheme is about any doctor that can have a FULL GMC registration and is interested in persuading a career in GP or Psychiatry specialty but has no work experience in the NHS. The WAST scheme is providing you with a one-year contract as an FY2 doctor in an NHS Trust that you get experience in the fields of GP, psychiatry and acute medicine. The aim is that by the end of that year you will be able to obtain the alternative certificate of competency (also called a certificate of readiness to specialty) which is required if you wish to proceed in applying for GP or Psychiatry but you have not done foundation years as a doctor in the NHS. I believe that is the reason why it is called Widening Access to Specialty Training. (WAST)
(I must add here that as a doctor I graduated from a 6 years course medical school, the last year was an internship year, I was eligible for a full GMC registration that’s why I could apply to WAST even though I had no FY1 experience in the NHS, because I could obtain FULL GMC registration.)
HOW I APPLIED&PREPARED FOR THE INTERVIEW:
I came across the application when I was looking online for a job in the UK and I did send my application via email. I did contact the WAST team via email and they guided me through the application and answered any questions I had at the time regarding the WAST scheme.
After I passed my IELTS exam I applied for the GMC registration in order to obtain it as soon as possible even though I was informed I had until the expected commencing day of work (August 2018) to obtain the GMC registration. At the time it was not mandatory for me to have a GMC registration on the interview date but to be able and show that I started the procedure for it. (I do not know what applies for this year’s application process so please don’t rely on this)
The interviews were held in Manchester. But I must say that the interview process was challenging for me as it was my first ever interview in the UK and was time sensitive as well. Each station had a timer, you had to be within the time limit. The interview was consisting of 4 stations, a psychiatry communication station interacting with a patient, a debrief station based on your interaction with the patient with some added questions about self-harm, an acute clinical scenario station, and a written Prioritisation station. I was informed via email from the WAST team how the interview format will be and what to generally expect in each station.
So, all I did for the interview was preparing my communication skills and revising on numerous acute clinical cases and how to approach them.
On the interview day, I was given a piece of paper where I had to scan it and email it back based on my deanery preferences if I was deemed successful after the interviews.
I had North West as my first choice and I was successful in getting into that deanery. I was informed about that but I had to wait to receive a different email informing me to which Trust and which hospital in that deanery I will be allocated which I must say it took a while.
HOW I AM FINDING IT AS A DOCTOR NOW?
I got successfully allocated to the Morecambe Bay Trust and I am currently working in the Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness.
I must say that the Trust was not sure how to handle the WAST doctors (there is another WAST doctor working at the same hospital) as this was the first year this scheme was implemented.
The hospital could not accommodate the 6mothts rotation policy so they followed the 4 months rotation policy that they follow with all of the foundation grade doctors here.
I had plenty of support in the beginning from the education department that deals with all the newly arrived doctors and I still have.
I must say it was challenging for me in the beginning and it still is a bit since when I first came here I had no idea how the NHS works since I am a foreigner that studied abroad. But since day one I have very good support overall and they are well aware this is my first NHS job and they encourage me not to hesitate to seek for any advice or help at any matter at work, not only for me but that applies for all the personnel.
I am treated as any other FY2 doctor and I am attending the training schedule as well as every other foundation grade doctor. I am filling the certificate of competency as well as the online portfolio that all the foundation year doctors are doing at my Trust. I am very satisfied with my training and my work here and the work environment.
My rota consists of 4 months in psychiatry which include 2 weeks in a GP practice, 4 months in a medical department, more particularly respiratory, and 4 months in A&E department.
I am glad I applied for the WAST scheme because I realized it was suitable for me. I also like the hospital environment I am working at the moment and overall, I do not regret applying or accepting this job and I highly recommend it.
P.S: Please do not rely on the above information for any questions you may have that might affect your application, it is better to check with the WAST office team if you have specific questions that may dramatically affect your application. They are very helpful and they were always answering back to my emails or over the phone.
More information on WAST scheme and current recruitment.
Dr. Elisseou secured Core Psychiatry Training in Aug 2019 round.