DOI: 10.1093/bjs/znad258.616 ISSN:

1209 Comparison of Competition in Recruitment into Surgical and Non-Surgical Specialties

J Ridgley, A Vaidya
  • Surgery



Despite notoriety for strenuous training with significant out of hours commitments, surgical specialties maintain a reputation for competitive entry with rigorous portfolio requirements. This study aimed to compare recruitment data between surgical and non-surgical specialties to examine whether surgical specialties are more competitive for entry.


Recruitment data from 2022 published by Health Education England was collated. Specialties included were those recruiting for registrar level training post (ST3/ST4 depending on specialty). Fill rates and competition ratios for all surgical specialties (with an ST3 entry-point) were compared with all non-surgical specialties for which there was data. Statistical analysis was completed using the Mann-Whitney U test.


Median fill rates were 94.99% (IQR 23.81%) for non-surgical specialties and 100% (IQR 0%) for surgical specialties (p < 0.05). Median competition ratios were 3.17 (IQR 2.86) for non-surgical specialties and 3.92 (IQR 1.58) for surgical specialties (p < 0.05). Highest competition ratio overall was in immunology (46), with cardiothoracics having the highest surgical competitions ratio (23.5). Only genitourinary medicine and diagnostic neuropathology had a competition ratio <1.


All specialties at registrar level training had high fill rates and competition ratios, however this varied greatly between specialties perhaps due to lifestyle factors and exposure as students. Surgical sub-specialties demonstrated significantly higher competition ratios and fill rates, suggesting that despite discussion around quality of life and burnout in recent years, surgery continues to be an attractive career. It would be interesting to compare the rates of those leaving training posts with recruitment data.

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