Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions from trainees

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DISCLAIMER: Whilst we aim to provide as accurate information as possible we suggest you consult the resources linked in the answers for more definitive advice.

If you have any suggestions for new questions, or have spotted any inaccuracies in the answers, please let us know.

Training Requirements & Exams

How do I find out what I'm expected to achieve, and when, during my training?

The 'training & forms' section of this website provides detailed information regarding units of training, assessment requirements and other documents required for satisfactory progression.  For more details please see the page relevant for you: CT1/2, ST3/4 or ST5-7.

What are work place based assessments (WPBAs) and how many do I need to do?

Training programmes in anaesthetics use workplace-based assessments (WPBAs) as part of the assessment process for each unit of training. They consist of:
  • Direct Observation of Procedural Skills (DOPS)
  • Anaesthesia Clinical Evaluation Exercise (A-CEX)
  • Multi-Source Feedback (MSF)
  • Anaesthesia List Management Assessment Tool (ALMAT) and
  • Case Based Discussion (CBD)
They are freely available to down via the RCoA website or via the ePortfolio

What is the ePortfolio?

This is an online resource allowing trainees to log WPBAs and clinical activity online. Logins and passwords will be sent you automatically on starting at the school. More information is available via the RCoA ePortfolio site and their FAQ section.

What is a logbook?

All trainees are expected to keep a detailed logbook of all clinical activity, including all cases, procedures and pain/intensive ward rounds. There are several ways in which to do this including online resources such as RCoA logbook and commercial programs such as iGasLog and Online Anaesthesia Portfolio. A summary of your logbook will be required at each ARCP (annual review of competency progression).

What are annual reviews of competencies (ARCPs)?

As the name suggests all trainees will be required to attend an annual review of competencies achieved, and also show documents such as a logbook summary and evidence of course attendance/continuing professional development. See here for more details.

Which exams are expected to be completed during anaesthetics training?

The Royal College of Anaesthetists administers the examination for Fellowship of the Royal College Anaesthetists (FRCA)

The Primary FRCA
The Primary FRCA is in two sections (taken separately): 
  1. Multiple Choice Question Examination (MCQ
  2. The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and Structure Oral Examination (SOE
You must pass the Primary FRCA, or a recognised exemption, qualification, before you can apply for the Final FRCA. A pass in the Primary FRCA is valid for ten years as part eligibility towards the Final FRCA. Exempting qualifications also have a ten year validity. 

The Final FRCA
The Final FRCA is in two sections (taken separately):
  1. A Final Written exam consisting of a Multiple Choice Question exam (MCQ) and Short Answer Question (SAQ) exam
  2. The Structure Oral Examination (SOE). 
You must pass the Primary FRCA, or a recognised exemption, qualification before you can apply for the Final FRCA.

Rotations & Hospitals

Which hospitals are in our region and which subspecialties do they offer?g

See our location map here for a full list of hospitals trainees might expect to be sent to.j

Who can I contact at each trust?

The contact details for each department, college tutor and department administrator are listed on the location map.

Novices

What are novices?

Novice anaesthetist is the the term use to refer to anaesthetists within their first 3 months of training.

What does this mean?

Novices have a 3 (to 6) month period in which to gain their Initial Assessment of Competence (see CT1/2) during which they will not be expected to perform solo on call sessions.

Are there any resources available for novices?

There is an excellent novice course organised by ISA trainees available for all novices. Their website also provides an invaluable source of information for trainees. In addition eLearningAnaesthesia module 1 is also especially useful.

Fellowships, Research & OOPs

What fellowships are on offer in the Imperial School of Anaesthesia?

Details of local, regional and international fellowships can be found here. If you are interested in doing some academic research please see the research page of this site.

Who can I contact about academic research opportunities in anaesthetics, intensive care and pain?

Academic anaesthesia within the school is rapidly expanding with many opportunities across the specialty in basic and clinical research. Please see the research page of this site, are alternatively you can also contact the academic trainee representative or the academic TPD. Please see the key people page for contact details.

What is time 'Out of Program' (OOP)?

There are various OOP options depending on what you require. See here for comprehensive details.
In summary the four types are:
  • OOPC: out of program Career break e.g. to spend time with family or external careers pursuits
  • OOPE: out of program Experience e.g. to spend time in anaesthesia/medicine without it taking time from your formal training, e.g. overseas experience.
  • OOPT: out of program Training (counts towards training) e.g. a formal fellowship at home or abroad
  • OOPR: out of program Research (up to 12 months may be counted towards training) e.g. to complete a higher degree

What is the recruitment process for an OOP/Clinical Fellowship?

Trainees must inform their TPD of any interest in an OOP that is currently available for recruitment. Trainees should inform their TPDs as early as possible of the proposed start date of the OOP. All application forms must be received by HESL/RCoA 6 months in advanced of the start date. This will assist the TPD in planning your future training pathway.

Less Than Full Time Training

What does it mean?

Trainees may opt to work at e.g. 50-80% of the time for the following reasons:
  • Ill health 
  • Child-care 
  • Caring for relatives 
  • Other commitments 
More information about options/job sharing/pay/leave is available from the AAGBI here and via the RCoA here.
More information is also available on the LTFT section of this site.

Who can I speak to about becoming an LTFT trainee?

Please see our LTFT page.

Study Leave

What is study leave?

Study leave is intended for trainees who require time off to attend courses, conferences and meetings.

How much am I entitled to?

This varies according to grade and is at the discretions of your department:
FY1-2 None 
CT1-ST7 25 days/year

What is personal study leave?

Up to 5 days can be applied for, prior to examinations, for private study. It is at the discretion of the department in which you are working and therefore not always possible.

Is there funding available for study leave?

Yes. Each CT1-2 can apply for reimbursement of study costs via their trusts. For ST3-7, approximately £750 is available per financial year for attending courses and meetings. This is claimed locally through the Trust that you are rotated to at the start of the course.

How do I claim from my study leave budget?

Please contact your local Trust for appropriate paperwork. You must ensure you update & complete the separate ISA Study Leave Tracking form for each year and bring to your ARCP.

Annual Leave

Annual leave arrangements may vary between trusts and this information is presented as a guide only. Please clarify with your local Department Administrator or College Tutor.

How much am I entitled to?

This is not post-specific, but depends on your years service with the NHS. The BMA website states: 

'The amount of annual leave is determined by your grade and, in the case of specialty trainees, your current incremental pay point. The following grades are entitled to take 5 weeks of annual leave a year:

  • Foundation year 1
  • Foundation year 2
  • StRs, StR(FT)s and SpRs on the minimum, 1st or 2nd incremental points of the payscale
The following grades are entitled to take 6 weeks of annual leave a year:
  • StRs, StR(FT)s and SpRs on the third or higher incremental points of the payscale'
(A/L for LTFT trainees is on a prorated basis)

Are public (bank) holidays part of the annual leave allowance?

No. They are in addition to annual leave. There are 8/year.  (NB: see in lieu days below)

What are 'In lieu' days?

If you work on a public holiday (including the night shift ending on one) you are entitled to an extra day of leave 'in lieu' of this.

How do I book annual leave?

This is dealt with differently in different departments. As a general rule most trusts require at least 6 weeks notice, although some may be more flexible.

What is fixed annual leave?

Some posts/rotations will assign you fixed annual leave, e.g. in ICU rotas. If you have a specific period in which you require leave it is advisable to discuss this with the rota coordinators before starting your post so that you are assigned to a rota slot that allows this.

What do I do about on calls during my annual leave?

Most trusts will expect you to organise swaps out of your on calls for your leave period. (Some will require you to do this before leave is awarded.)

What happens if I don't take all my annual leave?

In general the onus is on you to request and take all your annual leave. If for some reason this is not possible, depending on circumstances, some trusts will reimburse you for those days.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

How much maternity leave am I entitled to?

This is operated via an NHS-wide policy.   In general trainees with more 12 months continuous service are entitled to maternity leave pay and up to 1 year away from training.  Please contact your hospital Medical Staffing dept at the earliest opportunity for further information.

How much paternity leave am I entitled to?

Again this operated via an NHS-wide policy, contact your hospital Medical Staffing dept.

Pay & Rotas

How much should I be paid?

This depends on your grade/years of service and the banding of the rota you are on e.g. 1A. See the BMA website for more details click here. 

How do I know if my rota is compliant?

The BMA website has useful information regarding this - click here.  If you think you are working too many (or few) hours for your banding please contact your trust postgraduate centre/HR and request diary carding to prove this. This document provides more information regarding the Working Time Directive: NHS Employers

Training Issues, Problems & Complaints

I have a problem with the training at my trust, who should I contact?

I've been involved in a critical / serious untoward incident (SUI) - what should I do?

Please take advice from the responsible consultant and/or College Tutor at your trust. You can also discuss it with any of the people above. The defence unions are particularly helpful. Imperial LP has produced a guide for Understanding Serious Incidents which all trainees should read.

It is advisable to write a detailed report, as soon as possible after the event, of the incident even if you are not asked for one

All SUIs must be declared within your Form R at ARCP each year.

What should I do if I have had a needle stick or splash injury at work?

Immediately after the incident, follow your trust policy e.g. wash the affected area thoroughly for a prolonged period of time. Each trust has slightly different policies but in general it is recommended that you contact your occupational health department in office hours or attend your Emergency department out of hours.

What should I do if I have an acute or chronic health problem?

It is advisable to consult your occupational health department and College Tutor/Educational Supervisors who will advise regarding any alterations to work patterns if required.
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