Training and development (vascular surgery)

This page provides useful information on the training and development for this specialty and also has tips for people at all stages of their career including medical school.

Once you have completed your foundation programme you need to complete core surgical training (CT1-2) and ST3 specialty training in vascular surgery.

Core surgical training

Core surgical training lasts two years and provides training in a hospital in a range of surgical specialties. During the first two years of your training you must take the examination to give you membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) or equivalent.

ST3 specialty vascular surgery training

Following successful completion of your core surgical training it is necessary to apply competitively for the next phase of your training (ST3). Specialty training for vascular surgery takes six years. Trainees develop an area of special interest such as superficial venous disease or aortic aneurismal disease as part of their specialty training.

Prior surgical experience improves the chances of being offered a training place at ST3.

The Oriel website has detailed information on entry requirements, including the person specifications for ST1 in core surgical training and ST3 in vascular surgery.

At ST3 level you will need at least 24 months’ experience in surgery (not including foundation modules). A minimum of six months must have been completed in general surgery and or vascular surgery including emergency admissions. Up to four months critical care experience may be counted if included in a formal surgical training programme.

Some candidates gain this additional surgical experience by working as a Locum Appointed for Training (LAT) or Locum Appointed for Service (LAS) after their core training and before applying for ST3.

It is desirable to have six months experience of vascular surgery at CT/ST level. Completion of other training courses such as Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Basic Surgical Skills and Care of the Critically Ill Surgical Patient (CCrISP) is essential for your application for specialist vascular surgery training at ST3 level.

During your ST3-7 training you will be employed as a specialty trainee. At the end of this training you can then apply for consultant posts. However, before you can do this you must pass the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination (FRCS). You also need a portfolio of experience which includes formal teaching, leadership, management, research and audit. Once you have passed this you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) and you will be eligible to be on the GMC Specialist Register.

Selection panels also look for evidence of academic and research achievements, such as degrees, prizes, awards, distinctions, publications and presentations. An understanding of research, audit and teaching is also important.  Entry is highly competitive so you will need relevant achievements.  Completion of an elective in vascular/general surgery will demonstrate your commitment to the selection panel.

The GMC provides information on the curriculum for vascular surgery training.

BMJ Careers have a useful article “How to obtain an ST3 post in general and vascular surgery”.

This information is correct at the time of writing. Full and accurate details of training pathways are available from medical royal colleges, local education and training boards (LETBs) or the GMC.

Getting in tips

It is important to develop your practical skills and interest in vascular surgery/surgery as early as you can. This will also give you valuable experience to add to your CV.

The Oriel website has detailed information on entry requirements, including the person specifications for ST3 in vascular surgery.

    • join your university surgical society
    • attend conferences on surgery for medical students – this will give you an opportunity to network and meet your future colleagues
    • undertake a special study module or project in surgery/vascular surgery and choose an elective in surgery/vascular surgery
    • become an Affiliate of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
    • make contact with vascular surgeons in your hospital - offer to help in any way, eg with research projects or audit
    • attend courses such as those offered by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh – topics include surgical skills, interview skills for core surgical training and career-planning
    • ensure your e-portfolio has plenty of surgery evidence and that this is kept properly up-to-date
    • try to gain teaching and management experience
    • continue to develop your practical and academic expertise
    • undertake a research project
    • try to get some of your work published and present at national and international meetings
    • join or start a Journal Club (a group who meet to critically evaluate academic research)
    • join the Vascular Society as an affiliate member
    • teach junior colleagues
    • take on any management opportunities you are offered
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