My preparation and experience to secure core psychiatry training.
Following graduation I had decided to become a psychiatrist because of various different reasons. As I got my GMC registration and started looking for psychiatry only jobs because I knew the importance of psychiatry experience prior to getting core training. I was lucky to secure a job as a trust grade doctor, and as soon as my job started I was working on my Portfolio.
Actions following getting non-training job:
In my job I discussed my clear intention with my educational supervisor/consultant that I am aiming for a training job in psychiatry and generally people who work in psychiatry are passionate about their field and would like their field to grow and flourish with enthusiastic psychiatrist with a genuine interest, he agreed to help me and we made a list of targets to be achieved that could help me get into training. My advice to all IMGs would be discuss your aims openly with educational supervisor or consultants as they would appreciate your honesty and would really help you achieve your goals, I personally believe that we IMGs fail to do so as we have different ways of working back home and occasionally sharing your long term professional intentions with a consultant doesn’t really helps. In my home country there was no prior concept of developing a portfolio so I had literally nothing to add in my portfolio, I knew I had to work hard to make an excellent portfolio.
To build a good portfolio have a good network of friends who are already into training or planning to do so, I had a lot of friends who were working in the UK and this helped me immensely. My tip regarding contacting your doctor friends is set aside your ego and understand that they could be busy so don’t always lose contact with them and keep trying they will pick up your call some day and ask all your questions regarding your portfolio. So I asked all relevant information from my friends and furthermore I messaged random/ prominent people active on different IMG groups and most of them would reply to agree to help you and would share good relevant information.
At the very beginning of my job I knew what was required to make a good portfolio that could gain me maximum marks in the portfolio station. I did an Audit, this was not just a mere enthusiasm of data gathering and jumping up and down but my audit made me understand gold standards and how to get the system right, my advice setting a new audit in UK takes time so it is always a good ideas to be a part of an ongoing audit. Make sure you learn from audit as well as get a letter of confirmation from your supervisor to support your evidence.
I knew teaching was very important but unfortunately in my placement in old age psychiatry we did not have any medical student and foundation doctor coming in so I was confused on whom to teach. I was finally told by a friend that you can always teach nursing staff and to my surprise they were really interested in learning new things. In my free time I started teaching nursing staff, had my teaching feedbacks forms always with me so they could be signed immediately, I made my consultant aware of my teaching so that along with feedback he could write you a letter of confirmation of teaching. Furthermore, I requested by colleagues and patients to fill feedback forms and was really delighted to have such a wonderful feedback.
I also was told about different popular course such as leadership and management and teach the trainer course so I enrolled in these courses. In addition made and eLFH account to do relevant e-learning in psychiatry. Despite having a busy schedule I tried to get involve in as much training as the trainees so attended most of the clinical educational programs and request certificate of attendance for my portfolio. I also gave two presentations in my hospitals clinical educational program and also got feedback filled from attendees and a letter on confirmation from my consultant.
In addition, I did case based discussions, ACE and mini Ace with my consultant and also did reflective practice and wrote post of my reflections which I latter on added in my portfolio. I also made a personal development plan and added addition achievements and certification furthermore was suggested to add up greeting cards given by ward colleagues, patients and picture of me involved in different activities.
I tried to cover all domains that were required to make an attractive portfolio, unfortunately could not do any research publication or any further quality improvement projects.
I also did the mandatory MSRA exam, bought a question bank practiced questions and by the time of the exam was able to finish my question bank, my advice to people sitting in this exam is to start early preparation.
I believe I worked with two of the best consultants in my trust who were ready to help, after I had lined up my portfolio I practices it with my consultant ad was open to feedback and for the clinical station I did not have to do much because it was quite similar to our usual psychiatry patient interview but still I would suggest to discuss clinical station with your friends. For your portfolio station whatever you have it in your portfolio try to speak about why doing this or being part of this would make you a good psychiatrist in other words relate everything in your portfolio with psychiatry.
Thankfully I was called up for the interview, my advice for people invited for interview is stay confident, practice your portfolio and only talk positive about yourself and show evidence for whatever you have done and the best way is through feedback forms and letter of confirmation from your educational supervisor. Following the interview I was able to get a reasonable rank and was able to get core training in my second preference (London).
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