Special Interest Matching Process

Author: Sam Chippington, Head of School.
Date: March 2023 *this may be modified year by year

The London School of Radiology matching process Is offered to all ST3 trainees entering their ST4 year within the next academic year (August – August) and includes LTFT trainees, and those returning from a period of time out of training e.g. for parental leave.

The purpose of matching is:

  • To offer opportunities more widely in London
  • To use all the posts at ST4/5 level (including those in the specialist hospitals) more efficiently.
  • To produce ‘rotations’ which offer a greater breadth of training within specialties
  • To identify ‘gaps’ in the training programme in a timely way allowing recruitment  with a longer time to plan
  • To increase the numbers of critical shortage special interest posts (e.g. Breast / Paediatrics / IR / INR)

Firstly Trainees are encouraged to consider their special interest options within their base scheme. They are also given the opportunity to apply for options outside of the base scheme. Trainees are guaranteed a place in their base scheme (if they wish to remain there) but not guaranteed the special interest area.  No trainee could be ‘forced’ to move from their original training scheme.

The process is as follows:
Special interest options are identified within all training schemes towards the end of the year. It is not possible to know how many posts may be available at each site, nor within the specialties – until the matching day as vacancies are created by trainees moving (particularly to the 4 specialist hospitals). Trainees are ranked for posts (outside their base hospitals) using the application forms and higher ranked trainees offered their first preferences.

Outline timeline:
In December trainees are asked to complete a short application form outlining their achievements, their reasons for their choices of special interests and to indicate whether the location of the post – usually within their base scheme – or the choice of special interest is more important. Each trainee will be asked to give 3 special interest choices for their ST4/5 years.

If trainees are keen to stay in a particular area or scheme then efforts are made to accommodate this, but it may not be able to offer the preferred special interest. For popular special interests/locations where numbers of applicants exceed the numbers of posts on offer, trainees will be ranked based on information available on their matching form.

It is possible that there may be a small number of trainees who only get offered one of their three choices for the 2 years of training. If (exceptionally) none of their choices are available  they can be offered choices from those posts remaining unfilled or can choose to do more general radiology at their base hospital with focus on Acute/Emergency cross section or Oncology imaging for example. The chances of this happening are small– as the number of ST4/5 posts in London currently outnumber the number of trainees in ST2/3 years.

This process operates along the lines of processes currently in place for the London School of Ophthalmology and the national process for Paediatric special interest training. The numbers of training places for critical special interests is maximized to accommodate all trainees who want to do critical shortage areas to increase the supply of Consultants with these skills.

If trainees want to opt to take an OOPR/OOPC/OOPT or OOPE this should be included in their application – and to indicate when this is envisaged. Trainees who do not get their desired special interest (or location) will still have the option to complete their training elsewhere via OOPT route, but individuals will be expected to find such opportunities themselves.

The timescale for this process is to have applications received by early January and to have the outcomes finalized by early March for August start at ST4.

Overall feedback from trainees has been positive allowing them to access training opportunities across London, in specialist hosptials and subjects not locally available. The majority of trainees choose to stay in their base/core training schemes for ST4 and 5, although some will move for one (usually ST5) or both year.