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Messly Top Tips – How to Get Into GP Training

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Messly helps doctors make evidence-based decisions about their careers. We want to give doctors and medical students first-hand insights from doctors on what it’s like working in a variety of specialties so you can make more informed and evidence based-decisions. Read more about our mission and join our community

This week we’re looking at General Practice and exploring the application process. Today we’ll look at exactly how to get into GP Training, and in a few days time we’ll also hear from Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the current chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

About 5,000 doctors apply to enter GP training each year, with over 3,500 rotations available. The recruitment process is very different to other specialties and comprises the following stages:

1. Longlisting (formerly known as Stage 1) is based on the submission of your application via Oriel. To be longlisted, you need to meet the eligibilty criteria. The main ones are:

  • Eligible for full registration with the GMC + license to practice by the time you start
  • 2 years clinical experience by the time you start training (can be in any country) – e.g. FY1 and FY2, or internship + 1 year at SHO/F2 level
  • Evidence of Foundation Year 2 competencies
  • Read the FULL eligibility criteria in the National Person Specification from the National Recruitment Office site

2. Specialty Recruitment Assessment (formerly known as Stage 2) is a computer based exam comprising both clinical and professional dilemma multiple choice questions.

  • Professional dilemma paper – 58 Situational Judgement Test questions in 110 minutes
  • Clinical problem solving paper – 97 clinical questions in 75 minutes  You can read more about this paper and how to prepare for it in this article on the SRA.
  • Candidates will be shortlisted to Stage 3 based on how they score in the SRA – the application, past experience, additional qualifications are not considered. If you score 575+ combined, you will be exempt the next stage and given a direct offer. This score is set to include the top 10% of the cohort.

3. Selection Centre (formerly known as Stage 3) involves 3 simulated consultations (1 with a simulated patient, 1 with a relative or carer and 1 with a collegue) lasting 10 minutes each and a written prioritisation exercise (essay style question) lasting 30 minutes.  You can read more about Stage 3 in this article.

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GP Training Process

There are three rounds of recruitment each year for GP training, dates as follows:

Round 1 – applications open in autumn/winter (November/December) for jobs starting the following August. The SRA is usually first week of January, with the Selection Centre taking place in the first 2 weeks of February. Exact dates for Round 1 2018 are:

Applications open 8th November 2017

Applications close 30th November 2017

SRA: 4th – 13th January 2018

Stage 3 selection centre: 5th – 16th February 2018

Round 1 Re-advert – applications open in the spring (Feb / March) for jobs starting in August the same year. The SRA is usually in April with the Selection Centre in early May. This used to be known as Round 2.

Round 2 – applications open in August for jobs starting the following February. The SRA is in mid-September and the Selection Centre about 2 weeks later. This was previously known as Round 3.

Jobs that are unfilled from Round 1 are available in Round 1 Re-advert for both new applicants and those who applied in Round 1 but were unsuccessful. All jobs start in August.

The jobs available in Round 2 are jobs unfilled by the previous two rounds of recruitment – jobs start in February – there are usually limited jobs in this round, and some areas will not have any posts at all as they will have been filled already.

GP Training - SRA Timeline

The key to success in getting into GP training is preparation – be organised and get your application in time, and allow enough time to prepare for the assessments – both SRA and Stage 3.

If you are thinking of applying for GP training, the GP Training Support Facebook Group has over 6,900 doctors that are applying or in GP training that can offer advice and support. You can join at

Dr Mahibur Rahman is a portfolio GP and a consultant in medical education. He is also the medical director of Emedica. Dr Mahibur Rahman is a portfolio GP and a consultant in medical education. He is also the medical director of Emedica. He has kindly provided materials to help Messly users with their applications.

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