The NHS Medical Careers website offers a
number of self-assessment tools to help you understand more about
yourself, and make informed decisions about your post-foundation
career. You’ve already made a vital career decision in choosing to
train as a doctor. Self-assessment continues this decision-making
process by helping you discover your personal skills, values and
interests, so you can consider how they might suit the many
specialties available to you.
Self-assessment tests and exercises can’t tell
you precisely which speciality you should pursue, and it is
important to remember that choosing a career takes time. The NHS
Medical Careers website has been designed in short, simple sections
to fit with the demands of your undergraduate and foundation
programme schedule, and it’s recommended you start using it as soon
as you can. It will be a constant source of knowledge and support
in helping you choose the best specialty for you, and enjoy a
rewarding career as a doctor in the NHS.
What is self-assessment?
Self-assessment is the process of gathering
and understanding information about yourself. Learning about
yourself is, of course, the task of a lifetime, but it’s also the
essential first step in the career development process. It involves
analysing your interests, values, personality and skills to work
out what you want from your medical career. At the end of the
analysis, the goal is to find specialties that synchronise with as
many of your personal attributes as possible.
Why take self-assessments?
A thorough self-assessment can reveal many of
your personal characteristics and help define your strengths and
weaknesses. Taking the time to identify and understand your
preferences and skills will help guide your exploration into the
many different specialty options available to you. Looking for
similarities between these characteristics, and the demands of the
specialties you are considering is an essential element of your
career planning. In addition, the clearer you are about yourself,
and the specialty you eventually apply for, the easier you will
find it to write application forms and answer questions at
When you come to apply for jobs, completing
these self-assessment exercises in sufficient details will help you
construct clear, credible answers on your written application
forms, and also help you prepare how to answer the sorts of
questions that will be posed at interview. This is because of the
quality of your career decision making will be thoroughly
scrutinised in the application process, and you need to demonstrate
that you have carried out adequate self-assessment (stage 1), and
thorough career exploration (stage 2).
When should I complete my self-assessments?
Throughout medical school and the first year
of postgraduate training you may feel vocational planning can wait,
but it’s wise to consider your future career sooner rather than
later. At the very latest, you should start seriously thinking
about career planning in your penultimate year of your medical
degree. Acquaint yourself with the NHS Medical Careers website, and
take a look at the self-assessment exercises as soon as possible.
Exactly when you start completing them is up to you. You may even
want to complete them more than once, as your answers may well
change as you progress through your undergraduate and postgraduate