ST3 Portfolio Building Essentials: Area 3: Surgical Specialties – A Diverse Exposure


The performance assessment area takes into account the breadth and depth of your experience across different surgical disciplines. It evaluates your exposure to at least two specialties beyond your foundation competencies, such as T&O, Plastic Surgery, Neurosurgery, ENT Surgery, Cardiac/Thoracic Surgery, A&E, ITU, Paediatric Surgery, Urology, or OMFS.

To reach the highest score of 2, you should have spent at least four months covering these areas. Experience in cross covered calls e.g. working in General surgery with Urology on call cross cover may also be considered as relevant. Ensure your work history and experience aligns with your GMC records.

You may provide various forms of evidence, including a copy of the front page of your contract, or a letter from your HR, Head of Service, Clinical Lead or Consultant. The goal is to ensure that proof of all your qualifications and achievements are reflected in your application documents, without any contradictions to your GMC record.

This is one of the easier portfolio areas to achieve, but requires strategic career planning. If you are in Core Surgical Training, rotating through different surgical disciplines will, by default, be part of your program. However, if you are not enrolled in such a programme, you will need to proactively plan your career ahead of time. You should always plan at least 6-12 months ahead to avoid last-minute challenges. This can be achieved through early discussions with your Hospital management team, or alternatively finding a job oppurtunities at a different hospital if this is unsuccessful.

From my personal experience, I managed to rotate through specialties like Trauma & Orthopedics, Urology, Neurosurgery, Emergency Medicine, and Intensive Care within a single hospital. By assuming leadership roles, I cultivated strong relationships with the hospital management, which not only enriched my professional network but also aligned with portfolio area 9, which emphasizes leadership and management. These connections enabled me to secure 6-12-month placements in my preferred areas. Additionally, our hospital’s on-call cross-cover rota also provided an added range of clinical experiences.

Strategically planning your career early, with clear portfolio objectives, can facilitate achieving maximum points in this segment. Moreover, there’s no risk of penalty for over experience or negative scoring within this portfolio category.

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