Video interview with Sim FTSTA1: How to apply for Ophthalmology specialty training

In the UK to become an Ophthalmologist you need to complete medical school and 2 years of general foundation junior doctor jobs. During or after the second year of foundation jobs you apply for Ophthalmology training. The process is nationalised, in that you apply through one online application system for the whole UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Sim has recently been through the process and explains what you need to do to apply.


Summary time line for OST application (dates vary year on year please check the recruitment/ royal college website):

l Applications open about September each year and close about November time.

l If you qualify, you should undertake the specialty recruitment assessment in January.

l A couple weeks later you find out whether your have qualified for an interview.

l You then pick the appropriate interview time and date.

l About a week later rank all the jobs (location and rotation) in the UK.

l 1-2 weeks after the interview you will be informed about whether you have been offered a job or not via the Oriel portal. Options are given to accept or reject jobs.  


Firstly you need to register with the ‘ORIEL’ NHS recruitment portal to create an account and complete the application form once it opens. Applications open about September each year. It is used to book the specialty recruitment assessment (SRA), interview dates and times, job ranking and acceptance etc. Look at Severn Deanery website for dates for application for Ophthalmology recruitment and details on registering with the Oriel portal. The application form includes details for your eligibility to apply for Ophthalmology specialty training (including foundation completion certificate, medical degree information) and references. Then you are invited to go ahead with SRA once the application period closes. Passing the SRA is essential to secure an interview. Prepare for the SRA by using question banks and books. Start preparing about 2 weeks or more in advance of the test. Questions are based on clinical scenarios and ‘professional dilemma’ questions. The tests are performed at test centres around the UK, and details are provided upon application.


To prepare for the interview - again check the Severn Deanery website for advice as details may change year on year. Basically the Ophthalmology interview is split into 2 parts. Critical appraisal and audit, then communication and clinical skills. Prepare for the interview before the test if possible because you only have 2 weeks in between doing the SRA and being invited for interview. Prepare for Critical appraisal questions using books available, read journals and prepare a system. Audits - think about the process of designing one and definitions for example. Clinical skills - based on basic Ophthalmology especially those with systemic associations such as Diabetes. Communication skills - role play, practice at work or with colleagues.


A folder portfolio is required and prepared in advance. You have to take it on the day of the interview, and you should lay it out using the guide on the Severn Deanery website. Present your portfolio well, you can start prior to the interview or even before the SRA. What should you fill your portfolio? start early once you know you want to apply for Ophthalmology, during medical school, foundation years. Show your interest to Ophthalmology, on your elective, audits etc. Start early to prepare your portfolio but don’t forget to prepare for the test.