Top Tips for ACCS & Core Anaesthesia Applications
1. Gain experience in anaesthesia, intensive care or acute medicine…
- Taster days, SSCs and electives are an excellent way to show an early interest and dedication to the specialties during medical school. You can organise this here!
- Foundation Year jobs are an excellent way to experience anaesthesia, intensive care and acute medicine in preparation for ACCS/Anaesthesia applications. Applying for a job in these specialties during FY1 means that you can definitely talk about your experience in interviews, whilst a job as an FY2 demonstrates having taken greater responsibility in these areas.
- During your year out after FY2, try and get some experience in the acute specialties – emergency medicine, acute medicine and intensive care. Not only is this excellent experience, but it also earns you points for your application! The more you have, the better you score!
2. Embrace the ePortfolio – this demonstrates your key skills…
- MSF demonstrating team skills and communication.
- DOPS demonstrating interest in a relevant specialty if possible (central lines, arterial lines, intubation, airway management) or manual dexterity if not (any advanced skill). Try and show that you set goals, reflect on feedback and use that to develop your skill.
- CBD/CEX on relevant areas, e.g. leadership (MDTs, arrests), shock or sepsis, etc.
- PDPs are an excellent way to show your interest in progress and development. If you can, make them show an interest in ACCS.
- Meet your supervisor regularly and review your career goals. If your supervisor doesn’t know much about ACCS, ask if they can put you in touch with someone who does.
3. Make audits, teaching and courses count…
- Do audits relevant to anaesthesia and close the audit loop. It can be difficult in apparently unrelated specialties (e.g. COTE), but think outside of the box:
- Pain control, MEWS.
- Meet with an ITU/EM/AM consultant for advice
- Courses can be expensive. Local courses can be cheap or free if you show interest with the right people (if you show interest, they show interest). Useful ones are simulation courses, practical skills courses etc. They get you points in your application.
- Do ALS early in F2 – it’s useful and you get points.
- Try and get engaged with teaching, obtain feedback for each session, reflect and show how you develop your teaching. Try and demonstrate varied teaching skills – lectures/groups/one-to-one/simulation. The more presenting you do, the easier your interview will be (honestly).
- Do not worry about research – not many people have it.
- Don’t do exams unless you really want to and you intend to put the work in and pass. Make sure you do one for a reason (e.g. Part One MRCP will get you some points for your interview but make sure you pass before the interview, etc.)
4. Practice for the interview with someone from the specialty…
- Can you answer the following?
- Why anaesthetics?
- Why the local area? (both personally and professionally)
- How are you committed?
- How are you suited to the ACCS/Anaesthetic program and how have you shown that?
- What do you know about your training?
A final word…
If your portfolio is organised in the way they suggest and full of the above things, you’ll be fine. Above all, don’t worry if you haven’t 100% decided whether to apply or not and if you haven’t got all of the above. There’s plenty of time and you can always adapt what you’ve done to fit!
Written by Ashley Scott and Suzy O’Neill.