Clinical genetics is an exciting and tremendously varied specialty that touches on numerous other medical specialties.
Clinical genetics trainee characteristics
Clinical genetics will particularly suit trainees who are:
those who enjoy variety
able to work with a measure of independence.
Working in clinical genetics
Clinical genetics is largely outpatient-based, with some ward referrals for specialist opinion. Clinical geneticists generally work in multidisciplinary, Regional Genetic Centres in close collaboration with laboratory scientists, genetic counsellors and academic colleagues.
The key roles of a clinical geneticist are to diagnose inherited disorders and birth defects, estimate genetic risks, organise appropriate genomic or other testing, and to provide advice to individuals who may have, or be at risk of, a genetic disorder. The work includes clinical assessment and working with laboratory scientists to interpret the significance of test results.
Since genetic disorders can affect people of all ages and involve all body systems, clinical geneticists work closely with a wide range of other specialties, frequently in multi-disciplinary clinics. Some sub-specialisation (dysmorphology, cancer genetics, neurogenetics, cardiac genetics, etc. ) is therefore common.
Entry into the specialty is usually at the ST3 level, either as a clinical or an academic trainee. Recruitment is arranged bi-annually with candidates competing at a national level. Most trainees have a background in adult or paediatric medicine and must have MRCP(UK) or MRCPCH prior to entry at ST3.
Most trainees become NHS consultants but those with a research interest may become full or part-time academic consultants, with fewer clinical commitments. Teaching is also an important part of the workload of most clinical geneticists.
Specialty trainees in Clinical Genetics will usually be based at a single regional genetics centre for the duration of their training although trainees may be expected to spend time in other units. Regional genetics centres provide clinical services for large geographical areas and often provide outreach clinics at other hospitals. Specialty trainees will participate in these clinics and regular travel may be necessary as part of training.
Find out more about clinical genetics and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.
General / application queries
For general queries relating to areas such as eligibility criteria, making an application or the Oriel system, please contact the Physician Specialty Recruitment Office via email at [email protected].
Queries regarding the progress of a submitted application should be directed to the lead recruiter for this specialty. The lead recruiter for clinical genetics in round 1 2020 is Health Education West Midlands.
|Health Education West Midlands|
|Postal address||Health Education West Midlands
St Chads Court
213 Hagley Road
|email address||[email protected]|
Please be aware that clinical genetics accepts applicants from paediatric training routes.
Non-physician applicants must have obtained the basic specialty professional examination (MRCPCH) in addition to specific clinical experience and competences to be eligible. Therefore applicants seeking a position in clinical genetics must have one of the following:
Physician training (eg CMT) - MRCP(UK) Part 1 at time of application; full MRCP(UK) by required deadline
Paediatric training - MRCPCH Part 1 A & B at time of application; full MRCPCH by required deadline.
Please view the clinical genetics person specification for information about the experience and competency required for applying from a paediatric training background and the deadlines for when this must be achieved.
Medical trainees please view the standard eligibility criteria as detailed in the am I eligible? section.
National single centre model
This specialty uses the single centre recruitment model.
You will not be required to give any preferences of particular regions when completing your application; you are applying purely for the specialty at that stage.
Later on, you will be required to give preferences of the available posts – at that point, you can opt to be considered for as many (or as few) post vacancies available nationally as you wish.
Lead region and single centre interviews
The specialty will nominate a particular region to act as lead for the round; this region is shown under the 'Who do I contact?' tab above. This lead region will review all applications, liaise with all candidates, host interviews, verify assessments, and make offers on behalf of all regions nationally.
Your application will be handled solely by the lead region throughout the entire round, up to the point where you receive and accept an offer; after which it will be transferred to the region where the post is based for pre-employment checks.
All interviews will be held at this lead region although the clinicians making up the interview panel will be drawn from a national background – ie not just from the host region.
It is possible that there could be changes between now and the interview period. Please bear this in mind when reviewing the information below, although in most cases it is not expected this will change, or any changes will be minimal. You are advised to check back in closer to the time of interview. The date at the foot of this page shows when the page was last reviewed.
You will spend approximately 10 minutes at each of the three interview stations, with three-to-five minutes' transfer time between each. Thus the overall time for the clinical genetics interview will be approximately 40-45 minutes.
For details of how scores are awarded at interview, and weighting that is applied subsequently, please see the scoring page of this website.
Implicit in all six areas assessed across the three stations will be an assessment your communication skills - eg of how you would communicate with patients, colleagues, etc. in a given scenario, as well as your communication with interviewers at each station.
Click on the relevant stations below for more information on the content of the interview.
Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.
This is where your application form and training to date will be reviewed. This will include checking the documentation you have brought along to ensure all content on your application form is correct.
Normally your evidence folder will have been reviewed by the interviewers immediately prior to your arrival in the station. They will be:
• Checking that your achievements in your evidence folder match that claimed on your application form.
• Considering your career progression to date.
• Identifying areas about which they may wish to question you during the interview.
Areas for assessment
The two main aspects of discussion here, on which you will be assessed, will be your suitability for and commitment to ST3 training in the specialty, and your achievements and engagement with training and learning to date.
Scoring at the station
It is important to recognise that the scores awarded to you at this station will not purely be about your achievements, as this already contributes towards the scoring via your application form. Interviewers will be deciding upon scores via a combination of factors, for example: your responses to the questions asked, the breadth and quality of your achievements and your career progression.
Prior to arriving at station 2, you will be given a clinical and an ethical scenario to review. Upon arrival at the station, you will be asked questions relating to these scenarios.
Each scenario will be relatively brief (two/three sentences), so once you have read both, the remainder of the pre-station time will allow you to undertake some short preparation (just mental preparation - this does not mean making notes, etc.).
The clinical scenario will describe a hypothetical clinical situation which have arisen in which you are, or have become, involved. Some points to consider when reviewing the scenarios and preparing for discussion are:
what steps you would take
any potential treatments possible
any further information you would gather
how you would go about communicating with any people (eg patients, family members, colleagues) involved in the scenario
You should take into account any other factors you deem appropriate, using your experience and professional judgement.
The second assessment area here will be a consideration of an ethical scenario. As with the clinical scenario above, this takes the form of a hypothetical situation, described briefly in text form; details on the ethical scenario will also be provided outside of the station.
However, as you would expect this scenario focuses less on a clinical situation, and deals more with consideration of the moral, ethical, legal (etc.) issues which may arise in a particular situation.
Please consider the principles of GMC Good Medical Practice here.
You will be required to give a presentation for the first part of your time at station 3; the second part of this station involves discussion of research & academic medicine.
Upon arrival at station 3, you will need to give a presentation on the following topic, for no more than three minutes:
'An interesting recent development / research finding in clinical genetics'
Research & academic medicine discussion
Once your presentation and the subsequent discussion is finished, you will then move onto a general discussion on the subject of research and academic medicine.
No specific preparation will be required of you here, and you will not receive data in advance as you did with the presentation and clinical scenario.
However, we would advise undertaking some general preparation. For example, familiarising yourself with the process by which medical research takes place and progresses, from initial setup to report; as well as any areas of research that interest you, and the challenges, benefits, costs, etc. of research more broadly.
Areas for assessment
The first area for which you will receive a score at station 3 will be your presentation and its accompanying discussion, and the second is on your knowledge, awareness and understanding of medical research.
Station 3 will last for 10 minutes in total. As noted, the presentation should last for no more than three minutes. The remaining time will be split between the presentation discussion and the research/academic medicine discussion, as is necessary.
There is some flexibility in how time will be divided at this station, so interviewers will move on from one subject to the next as appropriate, rather than imposing an absolutely strict time limit.
Appointable - automatic
If you are awarded a score of at least 3/5, for all marks given to you at your interview, then you will automatically be classed as appointable.
Not appointable - automatic
If any of the 12 scores awarded to you at interview are 1/5, this will reflect poor performance and an area of major concern.
If three or more of your 12 interview scores are of 2/5, this will reflect several areas of concern across your whole interview.
Should your interview assessment falls under either category above, the level of concern over your potential progression to ST3 will see your application classed automatically as not appointable .
Appointability subject to panel decision
In the event that your 12 interview scores contain one or two marks of 2/5 (and the rest 3/5 or above), your appointability status will be subject to discussion in the post-interview 'wash-up' meeting.
The clinicians who have interviewed you will discuss your general performance during the interview and any concerns or otherwise they have about your application as a whole.
Should they deem it appropriate, your application will be classed as appointable, and you can then be considered for post offers; whereas if they feel their concerns are too substantial for this outcome, they must class your application as not appointable, and it will progress no further in the current recruitment round.
Review vs automatic status
Please note there is no distinction made between candidates judged as appointable automatically, and those classed as appointable on review. Once deemed appointable it is only your overall score which will be used to determine ranking.
Total score calculation
After interview, a weighting is applied to the scores in each area, and a score derived from your application form is then added to give your total score. This score determines your ranking which is used to inform how offers are made. The weighting of different sections, as well as the method by which your total score is established, can be seen by clicking on 'Total score calculation' below.
Please note that this is subject to change, and will be confirmed by the date of interview.
Application score calculation
The initial application score is used to shortlist applications. At interview this specialty reviews achievements from the application form against the re-scoring matrix in the document below to calculate the score which will contribute to the total score.
Whilst some achievements do not directly contribute to the re-scoring matrix, they will form part of the interviewers’ assessment in station 1 when awarding their score. In particular, quality improvement and teaching normally form a major part of the questioning in this station and as such are likely to significantly influence interviewers’ scoring; which will affect both the total score and determination of appointability. Thus these two domains should not be overlooked or considered any less important in any application.
|Int. 1||Int. 2||Weighting||Max score|
|Evidence||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Suitability for specialty||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Clinical scenario||/ 5||/ 5||x1.6||/ 16|
|Ethical scenario||/ 5||/ 5||x0.8||/ 8|
|Presentation||/ 5||/ 5||x1.2||/ 12|
|Research & academic medicine||/ 5||/ 5||x1.2||/ 12|
|Raw interview score||/ 60|
|Interview score (including weighting)||/ 80|
|Evidence score- scored at station 1, based on achievements claimed on the application form||/ 20|
|Overall assessment score||/ 100|
As part of the process of applying to ST3, you may wish to gain an idea of how recruitment progressed in previous years for the various specialties participating in the nationally-coordinated recruitment.
To this end, we have published data dating back to 2013 (where this is available), based around four main areas:
Competition ratios - application numbers submitted to each specialty, along with the number of NTN and LAT posts available in each. It is worth noting that posts are subject to change throughout the round (increasing on average between 20-40%), and post numbers for this data are taken at the end of the round.
Shortlist scores - the scores awarded to all submitted applications, including average scores and distribution nationally.
Total scores - the total score awarded to all candidates who completed the full recruitment process for a specialty (application and interview), including some analysis of scores.
Post fill rates - the number of posts filled by region.
We have published information for all specialties participating in our process that year; consequently not all specialties will have data in all cases.
|Year||Apps.|| NTN |
| LAT |
| Total |
* the percentage of unique candidates that only applied to this specialty (out of the 24 PSRO-coordinated specialties)
|Year||Apps.||NTN posts||LAT posts||Total posts||Comp.|
|2018||Did not run in round 2|
|2017||Did not run in round 2|
Provisional post numbers
Specialty vacancy numbers are available in the table below, broken down by region and divided between substantive national training number (NTN) and locum appointment for training (LAT) posts.
It is the intention that initial post numbers for all regions will be published prior to the application opening date, although this cannot be guaranteed. Numbers will be updated as and when notifications are received from each region and will be checked later in the round when programme preferences are open for selection.
Numbers subject to change
Please be aware that it is not uncommon for vacancy numbers to change throughout the round.
More commonly, post vacancy numbers can increase as the round goes on (and confirmation of posts becomes available); but it is also possible that numbers can reduce as well. On average post numbers rise between 20-40% from the start to the finish of the round but this can vary greatly for individual specialty/region combinations.
It is possible that regions which do not have a post at the start of the round may declare one after applications have closed. Whilst we try and minimise instances of this, it is not always possible to predict vacancies so even if there appears not to be a vacancy in your preferred specialty/region combination, you may wish to consider applying in case one becomes available during the round; you can check with the region concerned if you wish to check on the likelihood of a post arising.
Generally, once a region enter a post into a round they would always have at least one post available and would only withdraw it in exceptional circumstances.
Round 1 Interview dates & post numbers
|Region||NTN posts||LAT posts*||Interview date(s)|
30 March 2020
|East of England||0||N/A|
London and KSS
(Joint North West and Mersey programme)
|West Midlands (lead)||1||N/A|
|Yorkshire & Humber||2||N/A|