Sunday, 13 May 2012

RSM: How to optimise your CV for a consultant post in plastic surgery

On Tuesday the Plastic Surgery Section at the RSM held an evening on "How to optimise your CV for a consultant post". Barbara Jemec, this year's President, brought together three informative speakers and an unsurprisingly attentive audience of trainees.

First up was Eric Freedlander, Past-president of BAPRAS. He spoke on the BAPRAS workforce survey and the implications for trainees.

The talk was at best sobering and at times made for painful listening. Nonetheless Mr Freedlander provided a transparent and detailed assessment of the current situation and projected figures for the next few years. The reality is that there is little room at the top and this is unlikely to improve in the near future. 

Competition to gain entry to the specialty remains stiff. The ratio is 18 applicants for each post at ST3. At the other end there are large numbers of trainees gaining their CCT (projected 35 this year) but few retiring surgeons (4 in 2011). There are approximately 424 consultants in the UK with 40-55 age bracket containing the largest number.

Over the last ten years there has been significant expansion in consultant numbers but this has now come to an end. The current financial climate and rationing will probably lead to further reduction in workload.

Consultant numbers could be expanded a little if fewer consultant worked beyond a full time job and gave these hours to a new post. There might be an increase in part time working as the number of female trainees increases. However, there is no evidence of this with the current work force - female surgeons are working the same number of hours as their male colleagues.
The bottom line was that there were lots of trainees coming through and so remaining competitive is key. He pushed the Interface Fellowship programme and was disappointed that relatively few plastic surgery trainees were applying.

In summary:
  • Be the best of the best of the best . . .
  • Develop a broad training for as long as possible, breast, hand and micro are the largest sub-specialties
  • Apply for Interface Fellowships, such as the Hand Surgery Interface Fellowship 
  • Go overseas for fellowships, create links with foreign units and make yourself desirable to the unit that you want to hire you
  • Be good to your bosses 

Loshan Kangesu, Director, The North Thames Cleft Centre, gave a talk on "CVs from the appointment committee view".  

He talked about what the Advisory Appointments Committee is looking for in a new consultant. He argued that the local department now has less influence over who is appointed than they once did.

Candidates need to appeal to the non-plastic surgeons on the panel, often including a patient representative. Previous knowledge of the trainee remains very important. They need to be sure the candidate will fit in and pull their weight.

A rounded CV with evidence of sub-specialty training in the desired area is important. Fellowships can go someway to providing this. The presentation in the interview and performance on the day remain key. It is worth investing in professional courses on interview technique and presentation skills.

All trainees should look at a consultant job specification to identify the essential criteria and start to work towards the desirable criteria.

In summary:
  • Check the essential and desirable criteria on the consultant job specification and work towards them
  • Jump at the opportunity of being a locus consultant
  • Do something special that will make your CV standout
  • Practice, practice, practice before the interview
  • Work hard and get along with your future colleagues. . . 
Bran Sivakumar, recently appointed consultant at the GOSH/Royal Free, lifted spirits with tales of his three fellowships and how they boosted his experience and CV. These included an 'official' one at the Institut de la Main in Paris as well as "free-style" ones in Boston and Cape Town (Red Cross Hospital).

Finally, congratulations to Alex Hills for winning the best presentation prize.




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