Applying to Anaesthetics

Anaesthetics is a very hands-on specialty. Day-to-day work will have a mix of practical procedures and other clinical work such as pre-operative assessment. You will have a lot of supervision and one-on-one teaching as an anaesthetics trainee. In this article, we discuss what the specialty offers and the application process.

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Why do Anaesthetics?

  • Daily 1-on-1 Consultant-led teaching
  • Great mix of practical skills and diagnostic medicine
  • What you do as a trainee accurately reflects your day-to-day practice as a Consultant
  • No ward rounds (unless you also work within the Pain department in which you would have a Pain ward round)
  • Very broad scope of practice in which you can choose to specialise within (e.g. Neurosurgery, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Peri-operative, Pain) or remain as a generalist
  • Incredibly varied – can interact with many different surgical specialties in one day
  • Excellent opportunities to pursue other interests e.g. management, education
  • Get to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team (surgeons, scrub staff, ODPs, midwives), sometimes within a leadership role
  • Lots of exposure to the management of critically unwell patients
  • Plenty of Intensive Care experience and very easy to dual train
  • Excellent work-life balance
  • Very supportive and diverse Consultant body

What type of person would enjoy Anaesthetics?

  • Able to keep calm and take on a leadership role in an emergency
  • Works well in a team environment
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Good at picking up practical skills

How do I apply and what are the anaesthetic training programme routes?

You can either apply through the core anaesthetics training route or acute care common stem (ACCS) route. The latter is slightly longer as it includes time spent in emergency medicine & general medicine.

Anaesthetics Training Pathway

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Training Pathway

The Royal College of Anaesthetists introduced a new curriculum from August 2021, where training will be divided into 3 stages:

Stage 1: Core Training (CT) 1, 2 & 3

There are intakes twice a year: August & February. Interviews occur in January/February for the August intake & October for the February intake. During this time, you’re expected to complete the Primary FRCA (includes MCQs, viva & OSCE).

You must re-apply for specialty training.

Stage 2: Specialty Training (ST) 4 & 5

There are intakes twice a year: August & February. Interviews occur in March/April for the August intake & October for the February intake. During this time, you must pass the Final FRCA (MCQs, short answer questions & viva) to be allowed to progress.

Stage 3: Specialty Training (ST) 6 & 7

Final specialty training years.

Application Process

The application process is managed by the Anaesthetics National Recruitment Office via Oriel. The selection process this year was split into two parts:

  • Multi-Specialty recruitment assessment (MSRA) – 15%
  • 30 Minute online interview 85%

The Interview

Clinical station: Focusing on clinical management by scenarios (15 minutes)

General interview station: Focusing on portfolio and motivation to do anaesthetics (15 minutes)


Previously porfolio directly accounted for a significant amount of the scoring and ranking however it has been removed this year’s cycle for the CT1. It is instead being assessed in the interview itself.

  • Undertaking an Anaesthetics or Intensive Care themed SSC or elective at university will show dedication to the specialty and score you points
  • Organising a taster day or week
  • The Royal College of Anaesthetists runs a ‘Career in Anaesthesia’ event that provides practical advice
  • Publications and exams from other specialities (e.g. MRCP, MRCS) will score you points
  • If you’re planning on taking a year (or more) out after Foundation Training, up to 24 months in a complimentary specialty (e.g. Medicine, Surgery, Emergency Medicine) or 6-18 months of experience in Anaesthetics or Intensive Care will score you points
  • Get involved with audit or QI projects, ideally completing the audit cycle if you can

Interview tips

It is best to think of the interview like an exam and practice frequently. Know your portfolio inside out so you can quickly bring up examples for the interviewers and go over practice questions with friends and colleagues also applying. The time will go by quickly so the more succinct you can be the better, best of luck.

Useful Resources 

By Dr Saarth Shiralkar (ST4 Anaesthetics in North West Deanery)

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8 thoughts on “Applying to Anaesthetics”

    1. The best thing would be to look at the list of anaesthetic courses available on HEE. They list the ones which they’ll fund which gives you an excellent idea of common ones people do!

  1. Hi thanks for the post! Any info on the workload, satisfaction and training quality in different deaneries? Thanks!

  2. the new format for the interview is now 15 minutes of general interview and 15 minutes of clinical interview. It’s still online interview as of 2023. No more portfolio and presentation stations and self-assessment score is no longer mandatory

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