In this blog post, Dr. Chirag Shroff kindly shares his experience of securing his first psychiatry non-training job in the UK following PLAB.
You’re in your home country, anxious as can be whilst waiting for your PLAB 2 results. You open the GMC website and find that you’re through. Congratulations! You now wait for a month and finally, you’ve got that GMC license. Congratulations, again.
Now comes the tricky part. Finding a job. Most of the guidance about finding a job has already been explained by the now many famous PLAB blogs. Dr. Raja Adnan Ahmed’s blog deals with Psychiatry interviewing in particular, and that was my reference point as well.
In this guest post, I will tell you about my personal experiences with Psychiatry interviews. Truth be told, getting GMC registration is only the beginning of a mile-high climb to your UK dream and getting a non-training job is the most important first step to getting there.
In my view, it’s important to stand out from the other applicants and the methods to achieve this are follows:
1. Conferences, presentations, and research:
I would advise all my juniors and colleagues to do at least one conference presentation at any conference, either at the national or international level. If this is not achievable, try to give a local presentation and have evidence for this. Many would say that doing research work is time-consuming and I would agree with them, but putting in the hours shows commitment to furthering medical knowledge. This may give you the edge over other candidates.
2. Previous work experience:
Having previously worked in the specialty you’re applying to get into will likely make a better impression on the interview panel when compared to someone with no prior experience.
Before talking about the interviews, let me give you some background about myself. I finished my MBBS in August 2017, following which I did four months of voluntary rural service in South India. Thereafter, I worked as a junior doctor in Psychiatry for six months, under a consultant in Bangalore, shortly after which I have my PLAB. Currently, I’m working in Critical Care.
3. The supporting information section:
This one’s the most important bit for me. Each post is different and so is each trust. I think it’s important to research as much as possible about the trust you’re applying to, especially the trust values, the person specifications and explain how you meet them. In this section, it may also be a good idea to show your passion to the specialty you’re applying for, which in my case was Psychiatry. For example, I spoke about how I’ve wanted to pursue it since my medical school days. The panel pays close attention to your personal statement and the things you say. Being generic a definite way to not be shortlisted.
My interview experiences:
My PLAB 2 was on November 23rd. After finishing my PLAB 2 exam, I waited three weeks before I started my job application process. I began applying for jobs on the 14th of December till January 28th. During this time, I made 50-60 applications. However, I recommend everyone to apply to at least 100 different jobs. I would also recommend all my colleagues to apply as soon as the application is first posted because when there’s a large number of applicants, the trusts often conduct early interviews. In this way, I lost out many opportunities because I waited three weeks after my PLAB 2 before applying.
In Psychiatry alone, I made about 25-30 applications. The others were unfocused applications mostly in Emergency Medicine and General Medicine
Some of the questions that I encountered:
- Why Psychiatry?
- How do you deal with a colleague who’s upset?
- Case scenarios-
- An 80-year-old man comes to the A & E with aggressive behavior- Take us through how you would approach it.
- You are the junior doctor on call in psychiatry. A 40-year-old man is agitated in the critical care ward and they call you to evaluate- Take us through the approach.
- What are your career plans in the immediate future?
- What is an audit? Do you have any experience in audit and clinical governance? Tell us about any audit you’ve done.
- Tell us about an interesting case you’ve seen or read about in a journal in Psychiatry.
Although I have been invited for seven interviews so far, I received offers in the first three. So, I decided to choose between these. I have six months of previous psychiatry experience. Your level might be different and the same with your experience. But, no matter what the level you’re in, nothing beats research about the place you’re applying to, making a good impression, dressing well (I wore a suit and tie for all my interviews), commitment to specialty and showing the interview panel the passion you have.
In summary, clearing PLAB 2 does not guarantee you interviews or jobs. It’s important to build your CV as well. Please bear in mind that it takes a lot of planning and effort for medical staffing and the interview panel to conduct an interview. So, it’s very important to be courteous while interacting with them. Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone on the IMG group for helping me.
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