Core Surgical Training

Chris Brown's guide to Core Training excellence

Why Wales?

  • Recent change to three 4 month rotations at CT1 allowing greater variety of ‘core’ surgical specialities experience.

  • Introduction of themed rotations from CT1 provides trainees the opportunity to choose what they want to train in from an earlier stage. CT2 posts remaining as two 6 month rotations with the majority of trainees able to do 12 months in their chosen theme.

  • Availability of a CT2 ‘plus’/ CT3 year giving an extra year of training if required prior to speciality interviews.

The Basics

Core surgical training serves as the basis for all surgical trainees’ careers with the two most crucial elements being successful completion of MRCS and fine tuning the CV in preparation for higher surgical training application.

Higher surgical training applications generally open in early spring (March in 2015) so you really only have 20 months to get yourself up to scratch for national selection.

Currently higher surgical training for General Surgery is via a National application process run out of the London Deanery. Applications are made online through the Oriel online NHS portal. Applicants are selected for interview via long listing based on the Personal Specification and interviews happen in London.

Planning in Advance

check the relevant personal specifications for your chosen speciality and see what you need to do within the 24 months. Course like CCrISP get booked up early so keep your eye on the ball and plan for this, even if it means having to travel. Unfortunately with our limited study budget it often feels like those with the biggest credit card bill are more likely to get ST3!

MRCS part B generally only happens 2-3 times a year (~ Feb/May/Oct) so bite the bullet and apply early. You don’t want to get caught out and find you haven’t passed in time for national recruitment, especially if there is no time to resit.


Speaking from experience these 2 years go extremely quickly so it is very important no matter how much you dislike academic work to play the game and take any opportunity to get involved with audit and research. Welsh Barbers provides an opportunity to get involved with local projects and is a good place to float any ideas you may have for potential projects but may be unsure on how to go about orchestrating them.

The Welsh Surgical Society biannual meetings are a good place to start presenting work and to notch up a few regional presentation points at ST3. More importantly it is a good opportunity to network with surgical consultants throughout Wales as well as speak to and get advice from other more senior trainees.

ASGBI, ASiT and AUGIS are other good conferences to present work at and will generally accept most sensible work at least as a poster and count as national/international presentations.


Teaching opportunities won’t be given to you on a plate and these score crucial marks at ST3. CST faculty have arranged excellent opportunities for anatomy demonstrating, but in addition Cardiff medical school are always looking for people to teach medical students, especially with the new C21 curriculum.

Useful contacts:

And finally...

Do WBAs – they’re a pain but they’re not going anywhere fast and are likely to play a bigger part in surgical training in the future. You need at least 80 to score full marks at ST3 for the 5 years post graduation bracket – so they’re not just for ARCPs!

Created by Dafydd Loughran