Career Snakes and Ladders
How should we spend our time at medical school? Mark Scoote argues that this valuable time is key to increasing our chances in an ever competitive job market.
Medical students in the United Kingdom are led to believe that progression through the various training grades on the ladder is a straightforward process, dependent only on the learning of clinical skills and the passing of postgraduate exams. Unfortunately, competition for training grade jobs, particularly in the transition from senior house officer (SHO) to specialist registrar (SpR) level, has resulted in a bottleneck, with too many doctors competing for too few jobs. A scheme exists where SpRs are given a national training number (NTN), and this number ensures entitlement to a higher specialist training programme.1 Competition for these jobs is particularly fierce.
Potential hospital trainees should be aware that their future careers are by no means assured by simply achieving the minimum requirements needed for entry into the SpR grade. Furthermore, with continued expansion of medical schools and relatively static availability of NTNs, today's medical students may find competition extremely