In continuity with my previous blog: https://magicwithmedicine.wordpress.com/2021/06/13/training-routes-in-ireland/, I am going to now explain one of the ways by which you can get training in Ireland.
The first step for specialization in medicine in Ireland is Basic Specialty Training – BST. It is a hospital-based programme completed in Senior House Officer (SHO) posts. The rotations consist of 3 months in each specialty and the total duration of this scheme is 2 years. BST lays the foundation for HST – Higher Specialty Training which is the final stage of training lasting for 4 – 6 years depending upon your specialty. Once you’ve done all this then…VIOLA… you can become a ‘Consultant.’ See details here: https://www.rcpi.ie/training/basic-specialist-training-about/about/
To become eligible to apply for BST, you must have all of the following:
- Trainee specialist division of IMC – Irish Medical Council registration
- Proof of English language competency
For Non-European Union trained doctors, a certificate of experience is required if you’ve completed your internship in one of the following countries: -Australia -New Zealand -South Africa -Pakistan -Sudan -Malaysia -Malta -UK. Further details about this are present here: https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/registration-applications/what-division-of-the-register-are-you-eligible-for/overseas-internships-recognised-as-equivalent.html
For Pakistan, house job must have commenced from 1st January 2009 onwards and the rotations meet the standards of an Irish internship i.e. 3 months each in general medicine, general surgery, allied medicine and allied surgery. PMDC – Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (or is it PMC now?) issues an experience certificate for house job which is accepted by the IMC.
If you completed your internship in a country other than the ones mentioned above then you must take the Pre-Registration Examination System – PRES. https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/registration-applications/pres/
2. Trainee Specialist Registration:
Previously, you needed to pass the PRES or PLAB or some other exams to become eligible for this division. However, since last year, the laws have been changed. Now, if you are eligible for the General registration then you are automatically granted trainee specialist registration once the training programme commences. This is a huge PLUS for Pakistanis because it means that we don’t need to pass any exams other than IELTs to apply for training in Ireland! Source: https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/registration-applications/first-time-applicants/trainee-specialist-registration-non-eu-eea-trained-doctors.html
3. Proof of English language competency:
Multiple proofs are accepted in this category. One of them is Academic IELTS certificate (dated within the last two years at the time of application) with an overall band score of 7.0 and a minimum score of 6.5 in each module.
Another acceptable evidence is OET (Category – Medicine) with a minimum grade B in each module. This should also be dated within the last two years.
Further details about effective communication skills are present here: https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/registration-applications/first-time-applicants/english-language.html
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland offers BST in four specialties:
- General Internal Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
The application period is once a year mostly in October – November. You must apply online on the RCPI website and upload all the relevant documents. I applied in November 2020 and got successfully selected for BST Internal Medicine at Sligo University Hospital – soon to commence in July 2021, Alhamdulilah. I will also be highlighting my personal experience here.
The following information is required in the application form:
-Your biodata -Passport size photograph -Professional qualifications/awards -Medical council information -Employment history -Experience to date -Career objectives -References -Upload documents
Some of the above is self-explanatory so I will only clarify the areas which require some elaboration.
Here, all the exams and awards will be mentioned from MBBS onwards.
Starting from house job, all the posts held with their duration, brief description and points of contact to be stated.
Experience to date:
The first hurdle for most of us Pakistanis comes here. We are required to provide centile/decile place within our graduating class. Most of the medical colleges and universities in Pakistan (except maybe Agha Khan University) have the outdated ‘division system’ for evaluation of undergraduate students.
To my surprise, a whooping 20 marks are awarded to this centile/decile place in the shortlisting process of BST application. Unfortunately, my university i.e. King Edward Medical University does not have this evaluation system in place so I provided an alternative letter stating my ‘division’ and the marking criteria for it. Providing this letter scored me a dismal 6/20 in this category. Without a letter, you are given only 4 marks. And with the centile/decile place, if you are an average student, you easily get 12 or above. Just imagine, what a setback this is for us! Even before the shortlisting, we are beginning with a huge disadvantage!
The other area where one can excel or fall behind is research! Fortunately, I have ample research publications, posters and presentations so I scored very well here. Credit is given for publication in international or national journal (first or joint author); international or national peer reviewed meeting and being a published author (you can share your google scholar profile here). One must provide DOI – digital object identifier; an effective web link or upload PDF evidence of any research cited above. Research and other qualifications are scored out of 10 marks. I got 8 in this criterion, Alhamdulilah. The remaining marks are given for professional development; clinical acumen; interview performance and communication skills. The later are tested during the interview. Compilation of all the marks gives your rank which decides whether you get selected or not.
Furthermore, one can mention the professional courses or awards one has. This section includes ACLS – Advanced cardiovascular life support; BLS – Basic life support; HSE land online courses; any workshops you’ve attended and many other similar stuff.
It’s obviously best to have references from Ireland but those from Pakistan are also accepted. Appraisal forms need to be filled in by these references and this is an essential part of the application. They are given a huge weightage and the references can also be contacted at any point during the application. At least two referees are compulsory and both must be from different time duration in your clinical experience. The appraisal forms can be downloaded from the RCPI website here: https://www.rcpi.ie/training/basic-specialist-training-about/about/
Compulsory to upload are:
-Evidence of trainee specialist division (last year, IMC had issued an email to all the applicants who were eligible for this division under the new law so I uploaded that email here.)
-IMC registration certificate
-Proof of English language competency
-Medical school transcripts
-Verification of decile/centile place
-Two Appraisal forms
-Stamp 4 EU FAM visa if that is applicable to you
-PDF evidence of research, awards listed in the application
Optional to upload are:
-Certificates of medical skills/courses
-Post graduate exam results
-House job experience certificate
-Any other job experience certificate
-Letters of recommendation (teaching and/or clinical)
Once all the above has been uploaded then the application can be submitted. The shortlisting for interviews is usually done within 1 – 2 months.
My next blog will be about my BST interview experience. Stay tuned.
Feel free to ask questions and don’t forget to ‘Follow’ the blog if you want to be notified about future articles.