Advice for applicants

Quarterly Blog

July 2018

Tips for successful Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) applications

by Dr Liz Fellow-Smith, Vice Chair of the Equivalence Committee

The College recognises that applications for CESR requires a lot of preparation and can seem quite daunting. This is the first in a series of articles aimed at helping doctors planning to engage in this process.

The CESR is awarded by the GMC and applications are made to them. The College assesses the evidence an applicant submits to the GMC. The assessment is to assure the GMC that the applicant has gained the equivalent level of competence as a ST6 trainee making application for CCT via the ARCP process.

The CESR applicant must demonstrate competence against all Intended Learning Outcomes in the curriculum of the specialty of their choice via the written evidence submitted.

The CESR certificate is awarded only on the written evidence provided by the applicant. It is not granted on the basis of references or experience. Clinical contemporaneous primary evidence is the key to a successful application. 

We hope the Top Tips and Common Errors below help you in planning you application... 

5 common errors

  1. Evidence is > 5 years old
  2. Evidence is from core training – must be higher training equivalent
  3. Not demonstrating higher level experience in psychological therapies
  4. Evidence does not demonstrate full biopsychosocial assessments, formulation, differential diagnosis and care plan
  5. Not demonstrating range of evidence across all psychiatric conditions, range of social\cultural backgrounds & all settings\ages

 10 top tips

  1. Map evidence to all aspects of the curriculum 
  2. Present evidence clearly showing which curriculum ILO it satisfies
  3. Check and check again
  4. Take advice from GMC, RCPsych and others about your application
  5. Primary evidence is essential
  6. Must be current and ST6 equivalent
  7. WPBAs are important but not sufficient by themselves
  8. Use reflective notes to triangulate evidence
  9. Gather evidence from your daily work as you go along 
  10. Validate at the time​

CESR helped prepare me - Nandini Chakraborty

The CESR process gave me an insight into ILOs and what is really required to become a Consultant

I applied for a CESR first time in 2006. It was nearing my final MRCPsych examinations and PMETB had just come into being. With further experience in India on my CV, I thought I was ready to take the next step.

During the process of putting my application together, I learnt that it was difficult to collect and validate materials from posts I had done years ago, especially in a different country.

For a lot of skills, I felt I had the experience but no way to evidence them, especially with the time gap that had passed. PMETB kept asking for more and more before the final bundle was sent to the College. But I understood that it was in my best interests, to try and give me the best chances of succeeding.

My first application was unsuccessful. Though disappointed, looking at the requirements/recommendations for re-application, I was more encouraged as the list now seemed more manageable, focussed and certainly doable.

The detailed assessment document from my first application is something I have filed away, even now. I have photocopied it for numerous hopefuls and sometimes still go back to it for reflection.

For the next 3 years I focussed my experiences on the recommendations of the College, not only because I saw it as the way forward for a CESR application but this was what I needed to do in order to ready myself to become a Consultant.

It was further than a paper exercise; it was a way of making sure that my career path was clear and that I knew what I had to learn further.The paper exercise was to collect evidence, to make sure everything I learnt was documented and validated- every email, every card, minutes of meetings, assessments, reports.

In August 2008, I applied for and was accepted into the ST rotation. I reapplied for CESR February 2009. My application was successful. I was informed by PMETB on the 7th of December 2009, enabling me to start my Consultant job on the 14th of December 2009. I was ST5 when I left the rotation.

Many people have asked me why I went through the entire complicated process of CESR when I was due a CCT in 2011 anyway. The answer is that I felt ready and prepared. The one year and a bit I saved has eventually proved crucial in shaping my career.

Having gone through the CESR process gave me an insight into ILOs and what is really required to become a Consultant which benefits me even now as a Training Programme Director for general adult STs. It directed my portfolio for my only ARCP.

The understanding of how the ILOs fit into the four domains of medical practice and skills is invaluable for the annual appraisal process. Collecting evidence has become natural, almost a habit which makes the appraisal process as a Consultant much easier. 

Very few people encouraged me to go for the CESR application. But it was a decision that I am grateful I stuck to. It is a difficult process but rewarding at the end, not only when successful but because of the insights it gives into the requirements of a Consultant role.

Nandini Chakraborty

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry