Candidate Guide – Applying for Specialty Training as NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Academic Clinical Fellow 2023

Tip: Please read the whole application process before starting an application.


Recruitment Timetable

The full recruitment timetable is as follows:

Applications Open Friday 7th of October 2022 (10:00am UK Time)
Applications Close Wednesday 2nd of November 2022 (16:00pm UK Time) 
Shortlisting Wednesday 9th November - 16th November 2022
Interview Window Monday 28th November 2022 - Friday 13th January 2023
Initial Offers from Thursday 19th of January 2023
Hold Deadline Thursday 26th of January 2023









Training Posts

Important: Please view the vacancy on Oriel to review eligible entry levels for each of these posts.  



Geriatric Medicine

Health Needs of Older People


Platform Science and Bioinformatics

Medical Microbiology (with or without Infectious Diseases)

Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology

General Psychiatry or General Practice or Public Health Medicine

Mental Health

General Practice or Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Medical Education


Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology

Anaesthetics or Intensive Care Medicine 

Acute Care

General Surgery


Respiratory Medicine


Palliative Medicine


Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery


Renal Medicine or Cardiology


General Practice
























To apply for these vacancies please visit Oriel. To find the vacancy you are looking for use the search function using the following filters:


Recruiting for: Health Education England South West - Severn

Post type: Academic

Training programme: the specialty or theme you wish to apply for


Please read the advert in its entirety and find the relevant job descriptions on the advert for further details on each of these academic posts.

Further details of the Schools, posts and rotations can be found on the relevant School website.

The vacancies are correct at point of advertisement but may be subject to change. Any alterations to the vacancies published will be notified to candidates that register an interest by starting an application via Oriel.



There are rules regarding eligibility to apply for specialty training in the United Kingdom. If you are submitting an application, you will need to make sure that you meet all the eligibility criteria by the closing date of applications unless an alternative date is specified.

These requirements are outlined in the ST1, ST2 or ST3 Person Specifications and the Academic Person Specification.

Tip: It is important that you demonstrate the essential criteria in the Academic and Clinical person specifications linked above, to ensure your application proceeds through the process. Refer to the person specification when completing your application.


Evidence of Foundation Competence or equivalent

Applicants to CT1/ST1 training programmes are required to provide evidence of having met the UK Foundation Programme competences, or equivalent.  Foundation competency can be demonstrated in any of the following ways:

  • Applicants that are currently undertaking the UK Foundation Programme are not required to provide any further evidence at the time of application, but will be required to provide a Foundation Programme Certificate of Competence (FPCC) to the employer and the HEE Local Office/Deanery on completion of training and prior to commencement in post
  • Applicants who have successfully completed the UK Foundation Programme no earlier than 1 January 2020 are required to upload their FACD 5.2 or FPCC to their application form, at the time of application submission.
  • Applicants who are currently undertaking a specialty training programme and are in possession of a National Training Number (NTN) or Deanery Reference Number (DRN) will be considered to have had their Foundation competences assessed on entry to specialty training and therefore do not need to confirm this again.  Applicants applying directly from specialty training do not need to provide any further evidence at the time of application.  However, where they are appointed from a training programme where patient contact is not the norm, the receiving Training Programme Director should be made aware, in order that additional supervision can be arranged, as necessary.
  • If applicants in this category relinquish their NTN or DRN between the time of application and commencement, they will be required to submit an Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training for the period out of training .
  • All other applicants need to complete and submit an Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training.  Because of changes to the process, only the 2021 version of this form will be accepted. The post that has been assessed as delivering equivalence of Foundation competence must be wholly undertaken in the 3½ years prior to the post start date, to which the applicant is applying. Click here for a link to the Certificate of Readiness to enter Specialty Training.
  • The CREST should also be used for Public Health applicants applying from a medical background.


Evidence of Core Competency


Important: ST3-level applicants for Group 1 Medical Specialties

  • Only trainees who hold a Deanery Reference Number in the penultimate year of Internal Medical Training (CT2) or ACCS acute medicine (CT3) are eligible to apply. Trainees who have either: completed Core Medical Training, IMT training or ACCS-AM, are in the final year of IMT or ACCS-AM, or have alternative experience outside of UK training, are not eligible to apply.
  • Trainees currently in the penultimate year of their Internal Medicine Training (stage 1) programme who are successful in gaining an ST3-level ACF programme will start their first year by completing IMY3. Assuming internal medicine stage 1 is completed successfully, they will then run-through into their higher specialty at ST4-level. There is no requirement for trainees in this category to clinically benchmark as they will be carrying on with completing their IMT programme.


Important: ST3-level applicants for Anaesthesia

  • Only trainees who hold a Deanery Reference Number in the penultimate year of Core Anaesthesia (CT2) or ACCS Anaesthesia (CT3) are eligible to apply. Trainees who have either: completed Core Anaesthesia or ACCS Anaesthesia, are in the final year of Core Anaesthesia or ACCS Anaesthesia, or have alternative experience outside of UK training, are not eligible to apply.

    Trainees currently in the penultimate year of their Core Anaesthesia training programme who are successful in gaining an ST3-level ACF programme will start their first year by completing CT3. Assuming core training is then completed successfully, they will then run-through into their higher specialty at ST4-level. There is no requirement for trainees in this category to clinically benchmark as they will be carrying on with completing their Core Anaesthesia programme.


Other Specialities

Applicants to ST3 training programmes are required to provide evidence of having attained core competences or equivalent.  Core competence can be demonstrated in the following ways:

  • Applicants who are currently undertaking a UK Core Training Programme are not required to provide any further evidence at the point of application but, if appointed, will be required to provide a Core Training Certificate or an ARCP outcome 6 prior to commencement.
  • Applicants who have previously successfully completed a UK Core Training Programme are required to provide a Core Training Certificate or an ARCP outcome 6 at the time of application submission; similar to foundation competence, some specialties may have a time limit set on when an ARCP outcome remains valid before alternative evidence is required; check the relevant person specification for guidance.
  • Applicants currently not undertaking a UK Core Training Programme or who have completed a UK Core Training Programme previously but are unable to provide appropriate evidence are required to demonstrate equivalence.  Satisfactory evidence will vary by specialty and recruitment administrators should seek advice from the lead recruiter for the specialty (please review the specialty person specifications, which can be found here).


Online Application Form 

One application form is to be completed and submitted through Oriel per specialty.

To access Oriel to register and apply, please go to Oriel - Home

Core details can be saved and revisited at any point prior to the submission of an application. Complete instructions on how to register and use the application system are available on the home page of Oriel.

Applications for the Academic Clinical Fellow posts open at 10:00am (UK time) on the 7th October 2022 and can be completed and submitted from this date. The deadline for submission is 16:00pm (UK time) on the 2nd November 2022.

Tip: Refer to the shortlisting scoring framework on the NIHR website when completing the application form.


Completing an Application

Sections of the application have specific "word counts" assigned to them. This is a character count and the number of words allowed may vary depending on the length of words used in the answer.

Tip: Use the most relevant information if the word count prevents you from including all the information you would like.

Only one application will be accepted per post. If multiple applications are submitted, only the first application submitted will be included in the process.

Note: Alterations cannot be made to an application once it has been submitted.

Tip: Remember to save and check your application and only press the submit button when you have carried out this process. This will ensure you are submitting the correct version of your application.


Submitting an Application

Applications can be submitted at any point until the 16:00pm (UK time) on the 2nd November 2022. Late applications will not be accepted.

Tip: Submit your application at least 30 minutes before the closing time of the vacancy to ensure it safely meets the cut off deadline.


Fitness to Practice

Applicants with fitness to practice declarations will need to submit additional documentation clearly defining the declaration, including dates and outcome to by the closing date of applications.


Re-application to Specialty

Applicants reapplying for training in a specialty that they have previously resigned or been removed should attach a ’Support for Reapplication to a Specialty Training Programme’ form to their application.  This form is available to download from the Oriel Resource Bank.

Applications will not be considered without a fully completed and signed form, which must be submitted at the time of application.



All applications will be checked for evidence of the essential criteria outlined in the person specification. Applications that do not demonstrate the criteria will not continue through the process. Applicants will be notified of this decision via email and text message.

Tip: Candidates are advised to check their junk mail inbox on a regular basis in case any messages regarding your application have been filtered into there.



Where appropriate, Academic Clinical Fellow applications will be subjected to the shortlisting process.

Applications will be scored against a predefined NIHR shortlisting scoring framework by a panel of consultants from clinical and academic backgrounds involved in the recruitment process. The scoring framework has been supplied to candidates by the NIHR and no further information can be provided.

Each application will be reviewed by a minimum of two shortlisters.


Invitation to Interview

Applicants will be notified of an invitation to interview via an email from the Oriel Recruitment Portal.

Interview slots will be available to book through Oriel.

Unless you have opted out of SMS contact, you may also receive updates by text message.

Tip: Book an interview slot early to maximise choice and remember to keep checking your junk/spam inboxes.

Applicants will be provided with a link to additional information regarding the interview schedule and the additional documentation required when invited to attend the interviews.



You will need to provide details, including up to date email addresses, of three referees who have supervised your training within the past three years.  One of these referees should be an academic referee who is able to advise as to your academic strengths and weaknesses.  

If you are applying to more than one specialty, you may opt to nominate different referees for each specialty. If you have recently had a career break and cannot nominate referees from the past three years, then your referees must include your two most recent supervisors.

It is important that you confirm with your referees the email address that they would like you to provide on your application form.  Referees will be contacted by email with details of their referee accounts, so it is important that the contact details provided are correct.

References will only be requested once applicants have accepted a training offer.

Tip: Contact your referees at the earliest opportunity to check that they will be happy to support your application, and they will be available to do so within the application timeframe.



The interview panel’s main aim is to find out whether you meet the requirements of the person specification for the post for which you are applying, and to make sure that only the best candidates are selected in this highly competitive process.

The interviews date will be confirmed closer to the time, unless published on the main advert.

The process for each candidate may take up to 1 hour.

The invitation to interview will explain what will be required from you at the interview.

Panel members will complete a score sheet for each candidate and the aggregate score given by all the panel members will be the final score of the interview. From the final score candidates will be ranked.

ACF applicants without a NTN/DRN (National Training Number/Deanery Reference Number) in the applied specialty, deemed appointable at the ACF interview, will be required to reach the threshold of ‘appointability’ at a national clinical assessment/interview.

All interviews will take place oniline.


Clinical Benchmarking

Clinical benchmarking relates to applicants reaching the “threshold of appointability” at the national standard clinical interviews/assessments for the GMC specialty and level of ACF post to which they are applying.

Only applicants successful at the ACF interviews that do not hold an NTN/DRN at the appropriate level and in the GMC specialty to which they are applying need to be clinically benchmarked.

Applicants that do not reach the level of appointability at clinical benchmarking will have their ACF offer withdrawn. Only one attempt at clinical benchmarking per ACF post is permitted.

Applicants who already have an NTN/DRN in the specialty they are applying for do not need to participate in national recruitment as they have already been clinically benchmarked.

Please refer to the specialty training website to ensure that you submit your application to clinically benchmark on time.



For recruitment to specialty training in 2022 the offers process will be centralised and candidates will receive information regarding their offers for all specialties via “Oriel”.

Initial ACF offers for ACF posts will be made from the 19th January 2023. Applicants will be able to hold offers until the 26th January 2023.

Tip: Once again it is worthwhile keeping an eye on Junk/Spam inboxes as the emails can end up in here.



Candidates can request feedback following completion of longlisting if not progressed onto shortlisting or interview, after shortlisting if not invited to interview or after interview.


 Round 2

  • A second round will only take place if there are vacancies remaining following Round 1.


Question not answered?

If after reading this guide your question is not answered, please contact us.