Once you get a job offer, whether it’s a training job or non-training job, you’ll naturally want to know more about the hospital, deanery, and location. Or perhaps you’re applying for jobs or ranking preferences and want to know more about a particular place before you commit.
Whatever stage you’re at, we hope you’ll find this article useful where we recommend different sources of information and what you can expect from them.
We’ve divided it up into where you can go for information about training jobs, non-training jobs, and locations in the UK.
Information and reviews about training jobs
GMC National Training Survey (GMC NTS)
This survey is the go-to source for official feedback for training jobs for every specialty in every hospital. It is completed by UK trainees and is one of the requirements for annual review so the response rates are very high, usually around 95%.
Through the survey, you can access feedback for a deanery for a certain specialty, a hospital in that deanery, and even a specific rotation or specialty at a specific hospital.
What information can be found on the GMC NTS?
The type of feedback you’ll find here includes:
- Overall satisfaction ratings
- Clinical supervision
- Intensity of the workload
- Impact of workload on training opportunities
- Educational support
- Exposure to procedures and learning opportunities
- Quality of regional and local teaching
- And much more.
How to use the GMC NTS
We admit that the GMC NTS reporting tool is quite slow and cumbersome to use, but it can give you a lot of valuable information so it’s worth taking the time to learn how to use it. Be sure to watch the video on how to use it on the NTS tab of the dashboard.
This is a jobs website similar to NHS Jobs, but they also quite helpfully summarise the GMC NTS per specialty and region. You’ll need to create an account before you can access the summaries, fortunately it’s free to sign up.
There are also reviews submitted by doctors so you can see from this screenshot that 12 doctors have submitted a review for Core Surgical Training in the West Midlands. Reviews are structured into Pros, Cons and Tips and are usually quite short but to the point.
This is a website where doctors can submit reviews for hospitals and rotations. Unfortunately, it seems to be abandoned by the site owners, the latest reviews are from around 4 years ago.
However, even though the website is old, most of the reviews are probably still accurate. And although they are few, the reviews can be quite extensive and worth a read so definitely check it out. You don’t need to create an account in order to read the reviews.
Every healthcare service in the UK is monitored for quality by the Care Quality Commission or CQC. They inspect hospitals regularly and publish reports about how good the services from a patient point of view are based on specific indicators.
Some people suggest reviewing these reports to get an idea of what a hospital is like to work at, but we feel that a CQC report does not necessarily reflect the quality of training or the training opportunities that are available at a particular hospital.
Hospitals that have poor CQC ratings may be busy and chaotic, but can still have excellent trainers and exposure to a variety of pathology, while hospitals with good CQC ratings may be organised and well-run, but might be extremely rigid and prioritise service over training – great for patients now, not great for training future Consultants and therefore patients in the future.
I’m not saying this is always the case, but just that the CQC rating does not always accurately reflect training.
Still, you can check out the CQC report for a hospital just for completion of your research.
We see a lot of requests for reviews on Facebook and it’s great to see that most of these requests are answered, although we do notice that responses can be very general and are sometimes limited to “it was quite busy but the people were nice”.
This probably reflects the fact that the question is very general, usually something like, “Anyone worked at XYZ hospital before?” or “Any feedback for ABC hospital?”
Our advice is that if you want helpful answers, you need to ask specific questions. What exactly do you want to know? Make sure you list the specific questions you may have in your post so that other IMGs can give you good reviews.
Information and reviews about non-training jobs
There is no national survey for non-training jobs so unfortunately, there is less information available. You can look at the training job reviews for the same hospital or specialty, but some departments treat trainees and non-trainees very differently so although it’s helpful to read the GMC NTS and trainee reviews, it may not give you an accurate picture.
You’ll often have to rely on asking people for their individual feedback. What are the best ways to do this?
This is probably where you’ll end up seeking Information, especially if you’re still overseas. So as mentioned above, if you want useful reviews, please do be sure to ask specific questions.
Here are some issues that are relevant for IMGs that you can ask about:
- Availability of shadowing
- Whether you will have a designated educational supervisor
- Access to e-portfolio, study budget and study leave
- Support for signing off competences eg. CREST or core competencies
- Intensity of on-calls
- Team dynamics
- Opportunities to attend teaching
If anyone has any negative feedback about a hospital, please take that conversation off a public forum and communicate by direct message or email.
If you’re in the UK, you can usually arrange an informal visit to a department before you attend the interview. This involves meeting a Consultant and being shown around the department. If you’re able to do this, make the most of it by taking the opportunity to ask about some of the topics mentioned above.
You’ll also usually meet some members of the medical team that day so you can ask them some questions then about what it’s like working there.
If you don’t get to arrange an informal visit, be sure to ask about important issues at the interview, or at the very least, before accepting a job offer. We think the most important issues are whether or not you’ll get shadowing or an adjustment period when you start, and how supportive they’ll be in getting your competency forms signed off so you can apply for a training job later on.
Information about locations in the UK
This is one of the easiest things to get information about. Google is your best friend in this case and you will find a lot just by doing a quick Google search of “living in + NAME OF LOCATION” or “NAME OF LOCATION + city guide”
Other useful topics you can Google include “NAME OF LOCATION +
- Cost of living
- Places of worship
- International/Asian/African/other region community
- International/Asian/African/other region supermarkets
- International/Asian/African/other region restaurants
- Transport links
- Things to do
Performing these Google searches will provide so much information, probably more than enough about what you need to know. However, if you want to read IMGs’ personal reviews of certain areas, don’t be shy to ask on Facebook where many doctors will be more than happy to share their experiences with you!
In this article we provided you with resources that you can use to get useful information about training jobs, non-training jobs, and locations in the UK. It takes some time to do the research, but it’s worth the effort so you can make an informed choice about where to apply for jobs, or what you can expect from a job offer you’ve accepted.
We hope that you found it helpful and that you’ll be happy in the job and location that you end up in!
If you go through the information sources listed in this article, you’ll hopefully have a good idea of what to expect in the job. Now it’s important to prepare yourself so you can be ready to start your job on the right foot.
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