This article summarises the process of applying for a vocational training scheme in the UK (training to become a GP)
Entry onto a VTS is now managed centrally for each Deanery.
Currently, there are two rounds of applications for VTS schemes each year. Ads appear in the BMJ in February and August, with two weeks to send in an application. Interviews or exams then follow in March and April (Feb application) or September and October (August application), with decisions in Early May or November. All vacancies are advertised centrally on the GP Recruitment website.
The Wales deanery only recruits once a year, this is in the February round (for jobs starting in August and the following February), exams and selection take place in March and April.
Applications to individual schemes must be made centrally via the Deanery. It is recommended that you only apply to 1 (preferred) or 2 Deaneries each application round, applying to multiple Deaneries will not increase your chances of acceptance, and applying to every scheme will mean that you application will not get taken seriously. You must declare your 1st and second choice if applying to more than 1 deanery and these are cross checked centrally. Any inconsistency will mean your application will be thrown out from all Deaneries, so be honest!
Many Deaneries include longer, essay style questions on the application form that explore your past experience, your suitability to General Practice and your communication skills. These play an important role in short listing, so it is essential that you take the time to fill them out properly. Be honest, as you may be asked about this in detail in the interview. Check that your spelling, punctuation and grammar are all correct and that the responses are well laid out and formatted. Sloppiness here will give a bad impression and may lead to a rejection.
As well as an application form, many deaneries are now using an exam and / or an assessment centre as part of the application process.
The exam is multiple choice, mainly true/false, with some EMQs and fill in the blank type questions. Subjects covered include general medicine, general surgery (about 40% of total), and then the specialities – ENT, ophthalmology, psychiatry, Obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, as well as therapeutics. Practice management etc. is NOT in these exams, as you are not expected to know about this yet.
Those Deaneries that interview often combine general questions (why do you want to be a GP, what are your strengths / weaknesses etc.) with more formal or structured clinical questions, so be ready to think on your feet. Remember that no one is trying to catch you out; they just want to make sure that you are safe, competent, and willing to learn. As with all interviews, make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare, dress smartly, and make sure you visit the bathroom before your name is called.
As well as (or instead of) formal interviews, some Deaneries are using a selection day, where you will be assessed on a variety of tasks. These may include group discussions / role play, assessment of communication skills with simulated patients, and written tasks to test your ability to prioritise tasks in general practice.
This is a brief outline of the process for entry onto a VTS scheme. I went through the whole application process last year, and am now a GP Registrar in South Wales. I got my first choice VTS scheme.
You can visit my website http://www.gpvts.info for more advice and tips for those applying for or already on a VTS, with practice questions for exams, and essay / interview questions and answers given by a successful candidate. The site is free to use, and requires no registration.