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What is Core Surgical Training: Everything You Need to Know

A surgical career that helps save the lives of millions is a great choice. But budding doctors in training often feel confused about the sub-specialty they can enter. Core surgical training (CST) program in the UK helps resolve this dilemma by covering a range of surgical specialties. With CST, trainees can find out the specialty over which they will achieve competence. In this post, we’ll explain what is core surgical training comprehensively to you.

An Overview Of “What is Core Surgical Training?”

To understand what is core surgical training, it is necessary to know what general surgery means in the modern day. As recently as four decades ago, a general surgeon was seen to be competent in dealing with patients with various disorders. However, today, the number of surgical interventions has increased. There are 14 specialties, ranging from cardiothoracic surgery, colon and rectal surgery, gynecology, obstetrics, and more. Moreover, it is not appropriate to think that a single surgeon can expertly handle disorders of different parts of the body. This has brought a focus on specialization. There is no longer a term like general surgery. This term itself means a specific surgical specialty.

Here precisely lies the importance of core surgical training. It is the initial stage of surgical training. In it, trainee surgeons achieve competence in many surgical skills and behaviors. A majority of them are not specialty-specific. Besides, CST creates the foundation for trainees to achieve competence in a specific specialty. Moreover, that’s why it precedes ST or specialty training. Furthermore, if you are interested in doing surgery with formal training, CST will familiarize you with a myriad of surgical specialties. This program will allow you to make informed decisions about your preferred surgical specialty for further training.

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Core Surgery Training Entry Requirements

Core Surgery Training Entry Requirements

Now you have a good idea of what is core surgical training. Let’s discuss how you can enter into this program. CST is a two-year UK training program and is undertaken by all trainee doctors. It doesn’t matter what your specialty aspirations are; you must do it to progress further in your medical field.

The Application Process for Entering into CST

All applications to enter into CST are made through the Oriel platform. All the documents relevant to CST recruitment can be found on the Oriel resource bank. Moreover, you must read all the person specifications on the Oriel platform and ensure that you meet all of the requirements.

At the time of application, you need to complete a self-assessment score. It is as per your achievements in different surgical domains. After submitting your application, you cannot amend the ‘self-assessment’ part of it. So, check that you’ve assigned the most accurate score for each domain. Also, ensure that the required evidence is uploaded before you submit your application.

Selection Process for CST

The selection process for CST has two stages.

a. The first is the portfolio stage. In this stage, applicants must submit a score based on published self-assessment guidance.

NOTE: The portfolio evidence portal will be open from Thursday, February 8th, to Wednesday, February 14th. You need to upload all evidence before this deadline.

b. If your scores exceed the cut-off after verification, you will proceed to the interview stage.

Essential Criteria For Getting Into CST

Essential Criteria For Getting Into CST

To be eligible for the interview stage, applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. MBBS or a comparable medical degree

2. Complete registration (including PLAB requirements for IMGs) with the GMC at the planned start date

3. Proof of foundational skills acquired within the three years before the commencement date. Eligibility includes meeting one of the following requirements:

  • A UKFPO-affiliated foundation program must be ongoing.
  • Proof of completion of a UKFPO-affiliated foundation program (FPCC or FACD 5.2) must be provided.
  • After completing the Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training and completing full GMC registration, the applicant should possess a year and a half of medical experience.

4. Able to get employment in the UK

5. Proficiency in English, as necessary for GMC registration.

6. GMC criteria for health and fitness to practice requirements

7. Proof of past work

8. Requires a minimum of 18 months of surgical experience

The Importance Of MSRA Exam For CST

The Importance Of MSRA Exam For CST

Your final CST score is influenced by the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) exam by 10%. Before 2023, the verified self-assessment score was used for interview shortlisting. However, as part of the 2024 recruitment, the Multi-Speciality Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) will need to be cleared by applicants.

It is a computer-based assessment that assesses your essential competencies outlined in the Core Surgical Training Person Specification. It is based on various clinical situations. Furthermore, only the top 1200 applicants at MSRA get the interview invitation.

The MSRA takes place at Pearson VUE test centers. Applicants are invited to register for MSRA at one point and asked to sit at the exam separately at a Pearson Vue test center. To find the test center nearest to you, visit the Pearson VUE website.

What Should Be Your Final CST Application Score?

Your scores in MSRA, self-assessment, and interview make up the final CST application.

  • MSRA – 10%
  • Self-assessment – 30%
  • Interview – 60%

After calculation, the top 500-600 applicants will get a CST post.

Read Also: How to Prepare For an Interview

How Competitive Is CST In The UK?

The Core Surgical Training competition rate for the UK was 4.2:1 in 2023. It means that one in every 4.2 applicants was appointed. 42% of applicants were invited to interview, and 57% of candidates who were interviewed were successfully appointed.

However, this competition rate does not point to a probability of getting a job in your first choice deanery. Some deaneries are highly competitive. Therefore, if you want to secure a job, it is vital to get the best score in the interview.

How Can People From Abroad Get Into CST?

How Can People From Abroad Get Into CST?

Are you someone who has completed training abroad but wishes to get into CST in the UK? You can enter this training at different stages if you show proof of comparable clinical and professional competencies.

The Health Education England website is your trusted resource for checking if you fulfill the personal criteria for your preferred training level. Surgeons and physicians who choose not to do the CST can work as SAS members. SAS or Specialty and associate specialist doctors work at different career grades in healthcare facilities and are a crucial part of the UK’s medical workforce.

Final Words

CST is a considerably competitive program. It’s a great stepping stone to becoming a consultant surgeon. If you show a good performance in your application, your chances of obtaining a competitive placement increase. Moreover, this program also gives you a strong set of skills to pursue specialist training afterward.