Basic Specialist Training: Q&A with trainee Dr Marah Shaikh Yousef

Doctor reading patient notes.

Basic Specialist Training (BST) is the first step towards specialisation in medicine.

It is a hospital-based training programme completed in Senior House Officer (SHO) posts. It prepares you for Higher Specialist Training, which is the final stage of training.

Ahead of the closing date for applications for BST, we spoke to Dr Marah Shaikh Yousef, a first-year Paediatrics trainee with the programme who is currently working in the Emergency Department of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

A Learning Curve

Dr Marah Shaikh Yousef

Dr Yousef has fully embraced the hands-on nature of BST, explaining it has given her the opportunity to learn a lot in a short period of time. “It’s been remarkable so far. Working with different patients from all walks of life has been humbling.”

Marah says “With that being said, it has been a steep learning curve and I do recognise that I am still a novice and have a lot of learning to do. However, that is where the study days and the mandatory course come into play."

“My first study day was a key highlight. It was great meeting people from the Paediatrics community in person,” Dr Yousef explains. “Over the past two years, all teaching was online so having that sense of togetherness was sometimes challenging. Finally getting to meet people in person and get that interaction really made me feel part of the community."

What to Know Before You Start BST

One of the most important pieces of advice that Marah offers to anyone who wishes to join the program is to speak to a current trainee or someone who has already undergone training. “It will give you perspective on what it’s like being on the BST and working in this busy environment.”

Dr Yousef also flags the importance of recognising the possibilities in your career path after you’ve finished your training, explaining it is a fantastic stepping-stone. “It’s an internationally recognised qualification. It acts as an entry point for so many other qualifications. For me, I am not limited to Paediatrics in the future. I can go on and do GP, Radiology and more.”

Final Call for Applications

Ahead of the final deadline of November 11th at 12pm, Dr Yousef offers some advice for the final check of your application, suggesting “Take a look at the RCPI website, you can’t do this enough. Make sure you’re meeting all the requirements in your application.”

Should you be successful in getting an interview for BST, Dr Yousef encourages applicants to speak to those currently on the programme, ask about their experiences of the interview process, discuss questions they were asked and get any tips.

Applications will close at 12pm (midday), Friday 11 November 2022. For more information, click here.