ST3 Portfolio Building Essentials: Area 2: Specialization and Commitment


The Portfolio area 2 focuses on the depth of experience and commitment demonstrated by individuals within their area of specialization. It highlights the importance of balancing relevant and excessive experience. On the one hand, the longer you’ve been working in your specialization, the better your chances of scoring higher in this area, with a maximum score of 8 reserved for those with 21-30 months of experience. On the other hand, the longer your experience is, the more you risk being penalized for overqualification. This is similar to what I discussed about portfolio area 1. The lowest score is awarded to individuals with over 60 months of experience.

Here’s the silver lining: Overqualified candidates should not be dissuaded by low scores, as high scores in subsequent portfolio areas could compensate. The paramount goal is to demonstrate specialization and commitment to your field, an essential trait that is highly valued in the interviews.

I completed my Medical School training in December 2012 and started my medical internship in April 2013. By the time of my application, I had 31 to 59 months of experience in my speciality, General surgery. My assessment score in this area was 4, half of the maximum score in this area.

Despite once again getting a sub-optimal score, I focused on improving the scores in other sections of the portfolio. This enabled me to boost my overall score and eventually land an interview and ST3 post in both General Surgery and Vascular Surgery.

Tip: To avoid getting a low score here, try rotating/taking placements in other surgical specialities. This is additionally assessed in portfolio area 3, which looks at your experience across different surgical disciplines. For example, you might be a general surgery trainee, but your training involves placements in pediatric surgery, neurosurgery, plastics, etc. These do not count when scoring/ adding up the total experience you have in your core speciality, i.e. General surgery. Keep a good track of all your placements and have letters from your hospital to prove this.

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