Register for 13 Mar Free AKT Booster Webinar  Register Here 
  Register for 13 Mar Free AKT Booster Webinar  
  • Award Winning for medical education
  • Over 10 Years of Teaching Experience
  • Interest-free Payments Up to 3 Instalments with PayPal
  • Excellent Trustpilot
  • Award wining for medical education
  • Over 10 Years of Teaching Experience
  • Interest-free Payments Up to 3 Instalments with PayPal
  • Excellent Trustpilot

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

If you are interested in Psychiatry training in the UK, this blog covers the MSRA exam and all you need to know about applying. We are lucky to have Dr Sunandan Banerjee – a psychiatry trainee doctor – cover all key steps to get into psychiatry training.

img 1

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

Introduction

Hello! My name is Sunandan, I am an International Medical Graduate, currently doing my CT1 (core training year 1) in General Adult Psychiatry in the UK. I have had one year of experience as a junior resident doctor in Psychiatry in India and another year as a clinical fellow in Psychiatry in the UK before starting my training in August 2023. In this article,I will be writing about the process of applying for core psychiatry training in the UK, the application timelines along with a few other commonly asked questions. 

As many international medical graduates who aspire to be psychiatrists apply for psychiatry training as their first ever job in the UK, many of them might not have a working knowledge of how the NHS is structured. Therefore, before we go through the application process, I would like to briefly mention how the training in Psychiatry is structured according to the Royal College Curriculum.

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

Core Psychiatry Training in UK

In the UK, psychiatry training is spread over a duration of 3 years – consisting of 6 placements, each for 6 months. The hierarchy of the governing bodies can tend to be a bit confusing at times, so to simplify… 

There are several Deaneries (for example – London, West Midlands, NorthWest, Scotland) and each deanery has a number of NHS Trusts. Each NHS trust contains different hospitals, clinics and other clinical sites. 

A candidate who is successful in the training application process is placed in a deanery for their training and – depending on their deanery – may rotate among different sites within a particular trust for each placement, or may even rotate to different trusts within the deanery. 

The placements are usually:

CT1: 2x six-month placements in General Adult Psychiatry (Community/In-patient/Early Intervention/Psychiatric ICU etc)

CT2: 2x six-month placements; one in a neurodevelopmental disorders post (CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, or LD – Learning Disability), and the other in Old Age Psychiatry 

CT3: 2x six-month placements as discussed between the trainee and the programme director (eg Addictions/Liaison Psychiatry/Forensic Psychiatry/Psychotherapy/Neuropsychiatry etc) 

During the three years of training – CT1, CT2 and CT3, the trainee is expected to clear the three parts of the Membership exam conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

– Paper A (Theory – MCQ) 

– Paper B (Theory – MCQ) 

– CASC (Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies: Practical – OSCE) 

On completion of the three years of training and the three exams, the doctor becomes a Member of the Royal College (MRCPsych).

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

The Psychiatry Application Process

There are usually 2 nationwide rounds of recruitment every year

1) Those planning to start training in August

– For trainees starting in August (eg August 2025), the advertisements would be published on the Oriel website in October or November of the preceding year (eg 2024), and applications are usually open for about a month.

– Applications that are deemed suitable according to the eligibility requirements (eg MBBS Degree, completed CREST Form), will receive an email in mid-December from Oriel asking them to register with the Pearson Exams Centre and will be invited to sit for the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) Exam. Click here to find out more about the MSRA exam.

– Candidates are ranked solely according to the scores on the MSRA exam and are asked to fill in their preferred posts which are then allotted according to the rank. 

2) Those planning to start training in February

– For trainees starting in February (eg February 2026), the advertisements would be published on the Oriel website in July of the preceding year (eg 2025), and applications are usually open for about a month.

– Applications that are deemed suitable according to the eligibility requirements (eg MBBS Degree, completed CREST Form), will receive an email in mid-December from Oriel asking them to register with the Pearson Exams Centre and will be invited to sit for the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) Exam.

– Candidates are ranked solely according to the scores on the MSRA exam and are asked to fill in their preferred posts which are then allotted according to the rank. 

As there has been a recent increase in the competition ratio for Core Psychiatry Training, the number of posts available for the February rounds are quite few. This is because many of the February posts are dependent on the posts not taken up in August. 

But with more people applying, all posts are taken up, so it may be better to plan for August when trying to imagine a timeline for yourself.

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

The CREST Form

The CREST form is a certificate to demonstrate that you have achieved Foundation Year 2 (FY2) Level Skills and are therefore eligible to progress to CT1/ST1. The certificate can be signed by any consultant who has supervised your clinical skills for at least a period of 3 months anytime in the three and a half years before the start date of your CT1 post. For IMGs, it may also be signed by a consultant from their home country. 

WIth the latest CREST form now not asking for many clinical procedure competencies, most jobs would offer sufficient opportunity to demonstrate and tick off the required competencies. 

For more details on the CREST form, read this blog here 

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

Portfolio Self-assessment Score

The MSRA Exam includes two parts:

1) Clinical Problem Solving – 97 questions in 75 minutes. Out of these, 86 questions are scored, and the remainder 11 are “pilot” questions which are being tested for future exams.

2) Professional Dilemma – 50 questions in 95 minutes. Out of these, 42 questions are scored, and 8 are pilot questions. 

Click here to find out more about the MSRA exam, as well as sample questions.

I prepared for the MSRA while working as a clinical fellow in a community psychiatry job – when I did not have on-calls or weekends and nights, and I prepared for about 6 weeks in total. 

It may be more helpful to start earlier if someone is in an acute ward with several on-call shifts on their rota. The primary thing that helped me for the exam was attempting mock exams and reviewing the incorrect answers; this was because studying topic-wise was a bit difficult with obligations at work hampering a steady timetable.

Click here to see all Arora MSRA packages and resources – including our all-in-one MSRA Ultimate Package

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

My Psychiatry Training Experience

My experience of working in Psychiatry in the UK has been a wonderful learning process, especially with being able to learn a new structure of healthcare and the mechanisms of delivering care and support to patients. 

Psychiatry also allows me a good work-life balance and allows time to explore other interests, even within my clinical duties. There are several ventures that a trainee can involve themselves in which allows for overall developmental skills as an individual. These include academic and research roles, managerial and leadership roles, teaching roles, marketing roles, quality improvement roles, supervision roles and plenty of other opportunities that psychiatry trainees can be involved in that helps them not just with personal development, but also with skills that are helpful for developing their portfolio. 

As I am interested in academia and research, I also wanted to specifically highlight that psychiatry is also at an interesting point in time at present with research in exciting new topics. These include usage of novel psychopharmacological agents in the treatment of mental health conditions such as ketamine for depression, MDMA (Ecstasy) for PTSD, Psilocybin (Magic mushrooms) for Anorexia Nervosa and depression, transcranial Direct Current Stimulation using headphone devices for depression and numerous other trials that a trainee in psychiatry can directly be involved in through their employing trust. 

I hope this helps in getting an overview about psychiatry training in the UK and how to go about it. I also hope that it encourages you to apply for core psychiatry training. Do let me know if there are any questions, and I am happy to help out. 

Wishing you all the best for your applications into training and your future career in the UK! Sunandan Banerjee

Psychiatry Training in the UK: What it is and How to Apply

How can Arora help with Psychiatry Application

Our most popular and comprehensive MSRA Ultimate Package contains an all round and complete preparation plan for boosting your MSRA score. It contains multiple resources in one discounted bundle – 2x online video courses, Live MSRA crammer course, SJT and clinical mock exams, 2x audiobooks and 3x digital flashcard sets (clinical, pharmacology and SJT). For full contents and samples click here.

For individual MSRA resources (eg mocks, online courses etc) click here

To register for our next free MSRA webinar click here: Next Free Webinar

For our Free MSRA Countdown Programmes click here: Free MSRA Downloads

Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Hello and welcome to Arora Medical Education! I am a Portfolio GP with a 24/7/365 passion for helping you fly through your medical exams and maximise your career. You can find out more about me here.

I’ve been fortunate to teach over 50,000 doctors globally through a combination of face-to-face, online, audio and social teaching, helping them pass exams such as MRCGP AKT and SCAMSRA, PLAB 2 and PLAB 1. You can find out more about my previous roles and qualifications here.

Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions or ideas to help you reach your potential. I look forward to meeting you soon!

aman

Author Bio — Dr Pooja Arora

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, where she passionately focuses on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. She is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners).

You can find out more about Pooja’s previous roles and qualifications here.

aman

Other blogs that may interest you:

How to Get Into UK GP Training (UK-trained or IMG doctor)

Hello! If you are considering applying for UK GP (General Practice) training, then this blog is for you! GP training is the most popular UK Postgraduate medical training programme and in this blog we…

Read More

The MSRA Assessment: What it is and How to Pass

If you are preparing for the MSRA exam – as part of UK postgraduate medical training, then this blog is for you! Whether applying for GP (General Practice) training, or a Speciality training programme…

Read More

The CREST Form – Everything you need to know | What is it?

We regularly receive questions about the CREST Form in regards to application for Postgraduate Speciality Training in the UK. This blog aims to cover key points that you should know. CREST stands for Certificate…

Read More
X