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Preparing for Neurology ST3 interviews

Posted in Association of British Neurologists Trainees on 17th Jun 2013


Marianne Novak / Rumana Chowdhury

Dr Marianne Novak is a Neurology registrar, training in London and writing up her PhD on early brain changes in Huntington's disease. She is also the current ABNT BMA liaison representative.

Dr Rumana Chowdhury is a neurology trainee (ST5) at Kings College Hospital, London. She recently completed a PhD investigating learning and memory in ageing at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (UCL). She was the ABNT Training and Education Representative from 2008-2012.

Correspondence to:
E-mail: Marianne Novak

Most readers of ACNR are beyond the point of applying for speciality training positions themselves, but many will be asked for advice on the subject by junior colleagues.In this article,we give some tips about how to approach a Neurology ST3 interview,with the aim of helping both those applying for specialty training posts and those advising them. Please do consider passing this article on to any SHOs you know who are thinking about applying for a Neurology ST3 post.

General points

The interview will generally constitute several stations, each with different interviewers and focusing on different topics.The precise format often changes from year to year so it is worth trying to find out as much as possible beforehand. Look at websites such as those from the RCP (, the JRCPTB ( and Recruitment/Pages/Howtoprepareforinterview. aspx) and the local deaneries (various), and talk to colleagues who have recently been through the same process. The ABN website also contains a number of useful links ( Remember to check beforehand which documents you need to bring along with you on the day (e.g. evidence of competencies, references). Try to have a mock interview and ask your friends to fire some questions at you: on the day, you need to show that you have put time and effort into preparing for your interview.

Some or all of the following topics are likely to arise:

Personal experience and commitment to Neurology

Be ready to give a quick summary of your Neurology experience, and of where you see yourself in ten years’ time. Be able to tell the interviewers succinctly why you want to be a Neurologist.

Good Medical Practice

You should be familiar with this. It helps to try to frame as many of your answers as possible in terms of it.The GMC website contains both the full document and explanatory guidance notes ( consultation/20477.asp).

Clinical Governance

Know the six pillars of clinical governance (look at Wikipedia ( wiki/Clinical_governance) if you’re not sure). NHS Scotland (http://www.clinicalgovernance. has additional information. There is a good chance that you will be asked about audit in depth (see below) but be prepared to know about/have evidence of the other pillars too.


Make sure that you have a definition in mind (e.g.NICE’s‘a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change’) and be ready to discuss an audit you have carried out. Talk about it in terms of the audit cycle and make sure that you say either how the loop has been closed,or how it will be closed in the (near) future. Again, Wikipedia has a helpful entry ( wiki/Clinical_audit); further details are available from NICE ( media/796/23/BestPracticeClinicalAudit.pdf).


It helps if you’ve been on a formal course, but make sure you have some knowledge of different teaching styles and examples of when you have used them.Try to reflect beforehand on teaching as a two-way process and convey this in your answers.

Clinical Scenarios

Don’t panic if you’re not sure about what is going on! The aim is to work through the differ- ential process logically and demonstrate that you will be safe to work as a first year neurology registrar. Similarly, work through the basic steps even if you know the diagnosis immediately -demonstrate that you are safe. You can mention that you would discuss things with your senior if you are unsure. Examples of previous interview scenarios include foot drop, tongue fasciculation and transient global amnesia; talk to colleagues who have previous interview experience to find out more. The Practical Neurology Bare Essentials series ( is a brilliant resource for reading up on neurological conditions and MRCP clinical neurology case scenarios are good practice for working through cases (we are not aware of any specific ST3 interview case scenario banks). Breaking bad news sometimes arises – always remember to put the patient first.

Teamwork & leadership

Think about your experiences of both working in and leading teams and have some examples ready. The GMC website is helpful here ( guidance/management_for_doctors.asp). Be able to discuss your experience of working in a multidisciplinary team.

Current issues/ hot topics

It is worth being aware of current healthcare issues such as changes to the NHS,revalidation, the Francis Report etc and be ready to discuss them.The BMA website is a good place to find information about this ( might also be asked about ‘hot topics’ in neurology such as stroke, dementia, and the provision of acute neurology services.

Evidence-based medicine

Obviously you are unlikely to know every up- to-date development in Neurology, but try to have read a couple of recent papers and be able to summarise the main findings: you need to be able to show that you are able to practise evidence-based medicine. Have a look at the NICE summary guidelines for common neurological conditions ( Consider signing up to free Neurology watch emails (e.g. common/free_email_alerts.aspx?q=specialty_ lp_signup) to keep up to date with relevant research via regular alerts. Some previous interviews have included a request (with several weeks’notice prior to the interview) to prepare a short presentation on a recent research finding of the interviewee’s choice.

Final tips

Practice, practice, practice! Remember, the interview is your opportunity to show the panel that you are the kind of doctor that they want to work with in the future: show that you are professional, nice to patients, and – above all – safe. Good luck!