The Savvy IMG

10 reasons why you should apply to WAST [ARCHIVED]

If you have completed internship back home but have not yet completed a residency programme, and you’re serious about pursuing specialty training in the UK, then this is a scheme you need to know about.

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International medical graduates for UK specialty training applications masterclass

The WAST programme has been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is for historical information only and should not be used to make any plans for the future. Please check the official websites for any updates.

UPDATED: April 18, 2021

If you have completed internship back home but have not yet completed postgraduate specialty training, and you aim to pursue specialty training in the UK, then you should know about these two pre-specialty programmes that can bridge the gap:

The Widening Access to Specialty Training (WAST) programme is a 12-month long post that helps prepare and enable IMGs to apply for first-year specialty training posts in the UK, while at the same filling the shortage of doctors in understaffed areas of England. 

1. It fulfils the requirements for application to specialty training (ST1/CT1)

In order to start a first-year specialty training post in the UK you will need 12 months experience after internship. That’s the first requirement.

Second, you will also need a certificate confirming you have achieved the equivalent skills and knowledge of a UK-trained FY2 doctor. This is called the Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training or CREST (formerly known as the Alternative Certificate of Foundation Competences).

The WAST programme is 12-months long and aims to award you CREST provided your performance is satisfactory, so it meets both of the eligibility criteria for application to specialty training. 

2. It is suitable as a first job in the UK

WAST is equivalent to FY2. This is the level for doctors who have just completed FY1 or internship.

So if your only clinical experience back home is internship, or if you have less than 12 months experience post-internship, then WAST could be perfect for you.

If you already have more than 24 months postgraduate experience (including 12 months internship) you can still apply, however you may not be selected for the job as those with less experience are prioritised.

Related: The best first job in the UK for overseas doctors

To familiarise yourself with UK practice so you can thrive in WAST job, we recommend the Oxford Handbook for the Foundation Programme.I used it almost daily and found it extremely useful at work!

3. You can pursue any specialty after WAST

The WAST programme itself consists of:

  • Up to 12 months in acute hospital specialties with potentially 4-6 months in psychiatry
  • 2 week taster session in a GP practice and
  • Taster sessions in mental health setting if required

The guidance states that this is ideal for doctors who want to become a GP or Psychiatrist in England, but WAST doctors are not restricted to pursue only GP or Psychiatry for further training. You can pursue any specialty you choose including Radiology, Ophthalmology, and even Neurosurgery.

I wanted to be sure about this so I emailed the WAST recruitment office and this was indeed confirmed:

Although we hope WAST doctors will apply for GP and Psychiatry (as they have traditionally low fill rates), candidates will be able to apply for all CT1/ST1 specialties.

National Recruitment Coordinator
Health Education North West
January 3, 2019

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4. There are 2 start dates each year

Unlike Standalone FY2 which only starts in August, WAST has start dates in both February or August. This can be enticing if you want to minimise the “downtime” in your career.

Just be aware that most specialty training programmes start in August so if you start WAST in February, you will need to find another job to fill the vacant 6 months between February and August.

There are some specialties that have start dates in both February and August: GP, Psychiatry & Anaesthetics. So you can start WAST either in February or August and move straight into specialty training for these specialties only.

I have also confirmed this with the WAST recruitment office:

“If a candidate requires a Tier 2 visa and starts the WAST scheme in February 2020 then they will be eligible to apply for the limited number of ST1/CT1 specialties that start in February 2021 (GP, [Anaesthetics CT1] and Psychiatry definitely have posts for this start date).

If they completed the WAST scheme in February 2021 then because of the employment gap then they would not be eligible to apply for many CT1/ST1 posts (e.g. O&G, Anaesthetics, Surgery) starting in August 2021.

The benefit of starting in the August intake is that candidates can apply for all CT1/ST1 posts that start the following August.”

National Recruitment Coordinator
Health Education North West
January 8, 2019

5. The English requirements are the same as the GMC

If your medical school degree (including more than 75% of patient interaction) was not in English, then you need to pass either IELTS or OET.

WAST goes by the GMC English requirements. It accepts IELTS scores with an overall score of at least 7.5 and 7.0 in each section; and it also accepts OET with a grade of B in all sections. Excellent news for those struggling with the Academic IELTS writing component.

This differs from standalone FY2 because the UK Foundation Programme English requirements are higher compared to the GMC. For Standalone FY2, you need a score of at least 7.5 in all sections in the Academic IELTS, and a score of 400 in all sections in the OET.

Related: IELTS vs OET for PLAB, GMC and UK work visa

6. WAST jobs are in England only

Now, I’m not saying that England is better than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but if for any reason you aim to work specifically in England long-term then this is good news.

There is also some undeniable comfort knowing that you will be placed in a smaller geographic region. With standalone FY2 you could end up anywhere in the UK which can cause a lot of stress to someone who has never worked here before. At least with WAST, you can be certain that your job will be in one UK nation.

7. WAST offers a £5,000 relocation allowance

Since the WAST scheme is aimed at IMGs moving to the UK from overseas, the programme offers a pretty generous relocation allowance to help with moving expenses. This is not offered in Standalone FY2 or most non-training jobs.

According to the WAST applicant guidance, there will be an initial payment of £2,500 within a week of arrival, and two further payments of £1,250 a month.

There are conditions to this, however. If you leave within the first 3 months of the WAST programme they may withdraw one month’s salary. Also, if you are already in the UK you will not receive the relocation allowance.

Related: The cost of PLAB & GMC fees + tips on saving money

8. You can apply prior to taking any exams

Before you take IELTS, before you book your PLAB 1 test, in fact before you’ve even finished internship (depending on the month you finish), you can submit your application for WAST.

If you pass the interview and are deemed “appointable”, you will be placed on a waiting list, or as they call it a “talent pool”. You will then have 18 months to pass all the exams, obtain your full GMC registration, and finally start the job. If you are not registered within this time you will have to reapply.

This leads me to reason number 9.

9. You will have a job waiting for you

If you’re the type who doesn’t believe in risking it all for a dream and crave some level of certainty before moving to the UK, WAST may be able to offer you that. As alluded to above in reason 8, you can apply before you’ve even started the whole PLAB journey.

If successful with your application, at least you have the comfort of knowing that once you pass all the exams, there will be a paid position ready for you.

And since you are already paving the steps for your career in advance, why not start planning your successful application to UK specialty training? Join our IMG Masterclass where we guide you through planning for entry to specialty training at any stage, as early as now.

Check out the Masterclass here.

10. It provides training

As stated in the WAST applicant guidance, WAST doctors will “receive regular teaching and clinical exposure to help improve the skills and competences required for admission to specialty training.” This is great because in a non-training job you may not receive this kind of support to develop your career. 

There will also be some allowance for study budget of approximately £500 per 6-month placement or £1,000 for the whole year. This can be used towards courses and conferences to help develop your CV.

Related: 10 ways to prepare for your first job in the NHS as an IMG

Frequently asked questions

I’ve received a lot of questions since posting this article which I forwarded to the WAST office for an official answer. They have been very approachable and I share the answers with you here.  If you are applying to WAST this year, good luck!
Here is the information from the official website. 
If you have any other questions please email

You’ll need to create an account on the Oriel website and submit your online application there. You will also need to upload your supporting documents through the Oriel website.

Please see this article where we give our WAST interview tips.

Applications are generally open twice a year: February and June.

The closing dates are strict and applications may close early if there are a lot of applicants so it’s best to prepare well in advance.

Yes, WAST is a paid position. The gross annual salary before tax is £31,422. This is the same salary as an FY2 doctor.

If the WAST position includes on call work at night or weekends, then additional pay will be given.

Doctors in the WAST scheme can supplement their income with locum work as long as it does not interfere with their regular work, violate any visa restrictions, or breach the limits imposed by the European Working Time Directive (EWTD).

According to the EWTD, doctors should not work more than an average of 48 hours per week. This average is taken over 6 months.

Read more about how much doctors earn here.

Technically no, WAST is essentially a non-training job. However, the WAST office does advertise that the post will have some protected teaching time and a study budget that can be used for attending courses and conferences. 

There is a formal limit for UK experience in the UK. You should not have more than 24 months UK experience at the time of application. 

There is no formal limit on overseas experience, however, the person specifications do state that ideally you should not have more than 24 months clinical experience in total whether overseas or in the UK. This includes internship.

If you have more than that, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply, but it does mean those with less experience are likely to be prioritised as they are most suitable for this level of work. 

Probably not.

Although there is no rule that specifically states that WAST doctors cannot apply for ST3, or that doctors eligible for ST3 cannot apply for WAST, there are items in the person specifications that work against this.

  1. WAST aims to provide the Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training which is required for CT1/ST1 posts. ST3 posts require a different certificate which will not be provided through WAST therefore WAST will not fulfill the eligibility requirements for ST3.
  2. If you managed to obtain an alternative certificate of core training prior to WAST, bear in mind that the WAST selection criteria favours doctors with less than 24 months clinical experience. Therefore those with extensive postgraduate experience are unlikely to be selected for WAST.
  3. It will look strange and possibly inappropriate to an ST3 selection panel that a doctor chose to work at FY2/WAST level immediately prior to working as registrar.  It goes against these clauses in the “Career Progression” section of ST3 person specifications that states that applicants must:
    • Have evidence that their career progression is consistent with their personal circumstances
    • Have evidence that their present level of achievement and performance is commensurate with the totality of their period of training

So while applying to ST3 via WAST may be a possible, it’s important to recognise why this may not be a good idea.

This is the response from the WAST office:

This will depend on the individual case. Although there is no formal experience limit, candidates with more than 24 months’ clinical experience who can demonstrate foundation competency should be applying to the CT1/ST1 training posts directly.

The WAST scheme is aimed at F2 level doctors/recent graduates who wish to demonstrate foundation competency rather than doctors who are already specialists.

IMGs should remember that even without WAST, you are eligible to apply in Round 1 of both GP and Psychiatry. You are also exempt from RLMT in Psychiatry without WAST because it is on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

If you have more than 12 months experience after intership overseas then all you would need to apply for GP ST1 or Psychatiry CT1 is the Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training (CREST) which can also be signed by an overseas Consultant.

Please read the official response from the WAST office below:

No. We would be unable to conduct the interview via Skype as it involves an interaction with a simulated patient. All candidates must attend their interview in person.

Please see the response from the WAST office:

This will differ between rounds of recruitment but we expect that there will be between 50-100 vacancies across England per intake.


This is the response from the WAST office:

In the current application form (attached) doctors are asked to indicate which intake(s) they wish to be considered for.

We would only offer a post to a candidate if they requested that specific start date.

Yes you can start work with another employer before starting WAST. Here’s what the WAST office had to say:

If an applicant requests a later start date (e.g. August 2020) then they would, of course, be able to pursue a post with a different employer before starting the WAST scheme.

Have any further questions?

If after reading this article and the official website you still have more questions, it’s always best to ask the WAST office directly for an official answer. I have found the team to be extremely approachable and responsive, and they reply within a couple of days.


The WAST scheme has numerous benefits for IMGs and so far I wholeheartedly recommend applying to it. But don’t just take my word! Read through the official website and guidance very carefully to decide whether WAST is the right path for you.

Further Reading

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the article above. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a booking or purchase by clicking on the link. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves or have proven success amongst IMGs.

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43 Responses

  1. Hi very interesting post. What does it mean : training and non training jobs? (do they make reference to the entrance to specialty training or not? thank you

  2. Hi Nick and Kim!
    Firstly, thank you for writing these blogs. Needless to say, they are very informative and useful. I had few questions given my current status. I am from India and I have not done any post-graduation, in short, I hold a plain MBBS degree. However, I have worked as a medical officer ( Position for MBBS degree holders in India) for over 5 years now. I had recently applied to the University of London for a PG diploma in Public health and was accepted by LSHTM. I chose a distance learning program keeping in mind the current pandemic situation.
    My questions are as follow:
    1) Given my experience (bear in mind just as an MBBS and not a postgraduate )Can I skip FY 1 and FY2? Instead, opt to start directly with CT1? (I have completed my internship in India)
    2) Given that I am currently studying Public Health and have worked for 5 years will that put me under the category of overqualified?
    3) If need be which will be more appropriate action for me WAST or FY2?

    PS – I have started the process of PLAB. I will be writing PLAB 1 next year Feb.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Dr! Great to hear from you. To answer your questions:
      1. If your experience fits Pattern A or Pattern B as described here, then you can skip FY1. If you can get a valid CREST form signed off, then you can skip FY2. It is unlikely you will get a valid CREST form signed off from India, so best to do that in the UK. You need to work with the same consultant for a minimum of 3 months + complete everything on the form in order for it to be signed.
      2. No, only certain specialties have overqualification criteria, mostly surgery. Which specialty are you planning to apply for?
      3. WAST is closed as far as we’re aware, so a non-training job or FY2 standalone is your best bet.

      Good luck with PLAB!

  3. Hello Dr.
    Thank you for helping us with your guidance
    I wanted to ask if I want to pursue Emergency Medicine training and having overseas experience, is it better to go for a 1 year non trainee job in A &E or WAST pathway or FY2 standalone? Also is there a link for CREST form?

    1. Hi there! Thank you visiting our website 🙂 WAST is now closed so it would be either a non-training job or FY2 standalone. Non-training jobs are open all year round while FY2 standalone has a fixed timeline so it depends on you. I would apply for both and see how it goes, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can find a link to the CREST form in our useful links page 🙂

  4. Hi Nick and Kim!

    Thank you for the amazing work you do!

    I had a follow-up question-Is there any down-side that you could think of on doing a WAST job as compared to the FY2 standalone or the junior doctor jobs at the NHS?

    1. Hi Ishi! Unfortunately WAST is closed at the moment due to COVID so because of that, I would look into the other 2 options first, don’t wait around for WAST. But if it does open up again, the downsides are that the specialties you will rotate in are limited to medicine and psychiatry, and locations are limited to rural areas in England. If you’re not bothered by that then it should be ok!

  5. Hi Nick,

    I’m a 5th year medical student from Turkey. In here, medical schools are 6-year long and the 6th year is internship, so this means I won’t have my diploma before completing internship. Can I still apply for WAST while doing my internship?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. You can as long as you meet the rest of the eligibility criteria and application deadlines. When the new application guide comes out, please check the timelines.

  6. Hello,
    What about tge third option which is neither WAST nor StadaloneFY2 but overseas 12 month training/non training job after overseas internship,can I get more details about it like qhat are their eligibility criteria for it ,how to get accepted and be considered as an alternative to FY2?

    1. Hi there, eligibility criteria depends on the individual job. You’ll need to search for these jobs on the NHS jobs website. For it to be accepted as an alternative to FY2 it should be in an acute specialty (ie with sick inpatients, not an outpatient only specialty) at a hospital under supervision and you need a valid CREST form. Please see this article under the section “ENTRY REQUIREMENTS” Best of luck!

      1. Thankyou for the reply,
        I mean to work overseas 12 month not in Uk after my home internship , can I get the CREST signed overseas and use it as an alternative to FY2 ?

  7. Hello. Thank you very much for the useful information.

    I was wondering if 12 months of post-internship have to be consecutive or not. After 2 years of internship, I worked for half a year and then left clinical work. Next year I am coming back to clinical work while attending a part-time graduate Master’s course. The Master’s course requires an overall 4-weeks of absence from work. Since I am spending all my holidays for my studies, I hope next year’s one-year post-internship clinical experience will count as valid (even without counting on the half-a-year experience just after internship). But if there is a concern that my experience won’t be valid because of 4-weeks off, I think I’ll work a few more months to be sure that I can apply for ST1/CT1.

    As a sidenote, in my country doctors are allowed only a week-long holiday per year, so I am taking extra three-weeks off. I am worried that it may affect the assessment of eligibility check.

    1. Hi there, there is nothing in the CREST form that says it has to be continuous. Also even if it has to be continuous, I don’t see why valid gaps like completing a Masters should held against you. Good luck!

  8. Hi Tan
    First of all, many thanks for the amazing article. Second, I graduated from Med school in 2013 and completed my internship and achieved a higher diploma in Family medicine in 2018. For WAST, should I need full GMC registration? I mean I should complete not only plab 1 and OET, plab 2 is needed?
    so I can’t join the program without finishing those exams?

    1. Hi there, yes, if you’re going through the PLAB route, then you must complete both PLAB 1 and 2 in order to join the programme. You can APPLY for WAST before you do all of this, but you can’t START until you have full GMC registration.

  9. Hello, Dr.Nick! I had one more doubt. Do we need valid IELTS at the time of applying for WAST? Like for example, if a candidate is unsuccessful in obtaining WAST job offer after getting fully GMC registered and has to wait for 1 year to apply for next cycle and his/her IELTS expires the following year, is it mandatory for the candidate to retake IELTS?
    Thanks once again,

    Kin Regards,

  10. Hello, Dr.Nick! Thank you so much for such an eloquent article about WAST. I have passed my PLAB 1. However, due to the Covid-19 epidemic and the lock-down, I am unable to take PLAB 2 anytime soon. Considering that I might pass PLAB 2 and obtain full GMC Registration by (may-be) Mid 2021, what would you suggest? Shall I apply for WAST now in May, 2020 or wait? Since as per the above mentioned information, we are given 18 months to complete all the exams?
    Thanking you in advance,

    Kind Regards,

  11. Hi Dr. nick!
    My friend are planning to go into specialty training (not Gp/Psychiatry). Is it still advisable to undergo WAST? I’m asking this because of the application deadline of WAST seems more favorable than standalone FY2, since we can apply on June instead of Jan/Feb which is too rushed for us.

    1. Hi Tanya! It’s really up to you whether you feel the benefits of WAST are suitable for your situation. Just bear in mind that the WAST applications that are open in June are to start the WAST programme in Feb 2021, not August 2020.

      1. Thank you Dr. nick! But job availability-wise, is there a higher chance for IMGs to get into the WAST program? Or do we need special qualifications? Or would you recommend a non-training job, or straight to FY2? But this is in regards that we’re only able to finish PLAB1&2 by midyear of 2021 ? I’m sorry for asking so much, my friend and I are a bit lost on what to do

        1. No special qualifications are needed for WAST, standalone FY2 or SHO level non-training jobs since these are all junior-level jobs. If you’re only able to complete PLAB mid-year, then you will not be able to start WAST or Standalone FY2 August 2021. You can apply for WAST which will start Feb 2022, Standalone FY2 to start August 2022, or any non-training job to start any time of year after you pass PLAB. Good luck!

  12. Hi, thanks for the very helpful posts. Just a few quick questions, i’m a 5th year medical student now, do you have any tips to improve my CV before i graduate? Courses or internships etc… Also, would an exchange program to the UK during my summer break(provided by my uni) contribute?
    Thx in advance. ?

    1. Hi Aiman, I would recommend to review the person specifications and scoring criteria for the specialty you want to apply for. Generally completing a quality improvement project, presenting it, organising a teaching programme, doing a medical student elective in the specialty you want to apply for, and publishing in a peer-reviewed publication are all things you can do as a student to improve your CV. If you need any detailed guidance about this, do check out our IMG Masterclass. Good luck!

  13. Hi Nick
    Kudos to the good work that you have been doing in terms of guiding IMGs and providing them with valuable, concise and up to date information.
    I have a query and was hoping that you could help me with this, I have been added to the talent pool of WAST scheme after clearing the interview I recently had. Now if I opt to be considered for the start date of August 2020 would I be eligible to apply in the first round in November 2020 in General surgery or Trauma and orthopedics? According to your article I should be able to, just rechecking with you.

    1. Hi there, please see the FAQ at the end of the article about applying to ST3 after WAST. You would be eligible but it may not be a smart career move. Also, do note that immigration rules are changing in the next few months. It may be that all IMGs are exempt from RLMT and eligible in Round 1! We’ll need to wait to see what happens.

  14. Hi Nick, any advice on how to best prepare for the WAST recruitment interview? I studied the application guidnce and the Personal specs, I am still not sure about how to ace it, aside from studying cases for acute medicine, reviewing plab2 materials.

    appreciate ur support.


  15. Thanks for these pieces of valuable information but I have a question. I am an IMG with about 4 years of experience after graduation in my country ( Egypt ) . So, do i have a chance in WAST ? Is this experience is considered much more than they need ? BTW I am setting for PLAP 1 in march and I have not completed any postgraduate degree.

    1. Hi, thanks for your question. As answered in the FAQ, there is no formal experience limit however the WAST office says the following:

      Ideally candidates will not have more than 24 months’ experience since graduation when applying for the WAST scheme. As the WAST scheme is an opportunity for doctors to demonstrate foundation competence (via the ‘Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training’), candidates who can already demonstrate these competences should be applying directly to the CT1/ST1 specialty training programme rather than an F2 level post. Please note that the ‘Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training’ can relate to posts held in the UK and overseas.

      This means those with less experience are prioritised as they are most suitable for this level of work.

      1. Hi Nick,

        I have applied and shortlisted for the WAST interview in May. I have done the PLAB exams and have got the full GMC registration. My question is how should I prepare for the interview? Do you have any advice on that?

        Thanks a lot for the super helpful post!


    1. Hi, there are currently no written guidelines about applying directly to ST3 after WAST. It’s best to check with the WAST office and the office that deals with applications for the specialty you want to apply to.

      Bear in mind, WAST helps applicants reach the requirements for ST1 not ST3. ST3 jobs have their own requirements which will not be fulfilled by doing WAST. You can check the requirements for ST3 jobs in the Eligibility and Career Progression section of the person specifications.

      If you already have the requirements for ST3 and you are only planning to use WAST to become RLMT exempt, it may not look good on your CV to work at FY2 level immediately prior to taking on a registrar job. Person specifications state that applicants must “have evidence that their present level of achievement and performance is commensurate with the totality of their period of training”. WAST also states you should ideally have no more than 24 months experience in the UK to apply. Please contact the WAST office and the office that deals with applications for the specialty you want to apply to for clarification.

  16. Hello Nick
    I have a query regarding the WAST which i hope you would be able to clear. I am awaiting my ielts results and planning to give plab 1 in march , for which i recently started studying. I have 5 years of experience after my undergraduate course in casualty general medical officer and as emergency junior mo in India. Will that Also when i tried to fill in the application for march interviews , i had the option of august 19 start date only . when should i start applying for the visa ? be an hindrance to apply for WAST

    1. Hi doctor, thanks for your question! You should be able to apply now and then only start when all you have passed your exams and gained full GMC registration and a Tier 2 visa. However for specific guidance on completing the form please direct your query to the WAST office. I have found them to be very approachable and respond comprehensively within a couple of days to any questions:

  17. Very interesting article for the duration of east will the IMG Doctor be paid and how much is his monthly stipend

    1. Hi doctor, the WAST programme is 12 months long. It is paid at the same rate as an FY2 doctor. Please see the official guidance in the link at the end of the post for the information about pay.

      1. Hi Nick and Kim!
        I graduated in March 2020 and recently passed my PLAB1 and my PLAB 2 is in April. I have 6 months work experience at Apollo Hospitals(Multispeciaity hospital)after my graduation and stopped working there to focus completely on my PLAB1 exam preparation. My doubt is regarding the 12 month post graduate experience that is necessary in order to apply for CT-1 posts. Can I do a non-training job for another six months in uk and compensate for remaining months with the experience I have in India (Apollo Hospitals) in order to fulfill the 12 month post graduate experience. WAST is definitely a nice opportunity but I have to do it for 1 whole year. I’m just wondering if my experience in India will be useful so that I can save some time.
        Thanks in advance

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Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
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